HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Raising Sir Gallant: The Lessons That Transformed a Young Farm Boy into a Knight
Author: Mary Bustamante
Illustrator: Mary Flock Lempa
Publisher: Bristol and Thornbury, 2019
Related website(s): http://www.SirGallant.com (book)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Boys aged 8 to 12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Bustamante, Mary. Raising Sir Gallant: The Lessons That Transformed a Young Farm Boy into a Knight (Published in 2019 by Bristol and Thornbury, 26200 Ford Rd. #273, Dearborn Heights, MI 48127). It is 1517, and nine, going on ten, year old Gallant lives with his father William, mother Catherine, five year old younger sister Margaret, and three year old little brother Timothy on a farm near Bristol, England. An act of kindness from the past by his father to a youthful friend induces the renowned knight Sir Francis to visit Bristol, where he offers to tutor Gallant in the ways of knighthood. At first, the lad is hesitant because he has heard that a true knight can read a person’s heart and he has a dark secret that has haunted his young life. But he really wants to learn how to wear armor and fight with a sword. What lessons will Francis give him? How does Gallant react to them? What is the boy’s secret? And will he be able to overcome it?
Raising Sir Gallant is a lovely, charming story. Gallant’s tale is a history lesson with authentic details of early sixteenth century England which contrasts a typical commoner’s home with the famous Thornbury Castle and explores the foods, clothing, work, and pastimes of the people by which youngsters receive a rare glimpse into the rustic life of the late Middle Ages. Yet, it is more. The reader will find manners, skill development, and virtues like honor, patience, discipline, gratitude, perseverance, humility, respect, love, civility, integrity, and grace illustrated. And most importantly, emphasis is placed on how faith was cherished, with belief in God, going to church, and prayer being important, and people shared what little they had even with strangers.
Thus, the book is designed to be not only a thoughtful, engaging novel but also an educational tool which would be useful in either a classroom or homeschool situation. At the end of each chapter are some thought questions and a list of vocabulary words. In addition, an accompanying workbook contains related exercises to reinforce the material in the story book. There is also a Sir Gallant Castle Kit with various craft projects, activities, and other supplies. Some parents may want to know that there are a few references to drinking ale and wine—even ten year old Gallant gets his first cup of wine at the end to show that he was now a responsible young man. But over all, the wholesome message that it conveys reinforces vital principles that are so much needed, especially during our time.