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The Eldridge Conspiracy (Sir Kaye the Boy Knight) Paperback – 16 Jun 2017
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Throughout the books, author Don Winn reinforces a set of consistent themes, but he layers them and spins different angles to illustrate their application. At the heart of it all is a set of values and lessons about friendship, loyalty, perseverance, and honesty (and so much more) that will stick with readers, young and old. What’s refreshing is that the values aren’t demonstrated in a cookie-cutter way, and the characters aren’t always inclined to stay true to their core values. They sometimes struggle with doing or saying the right thing, and Winn shows that it’s okay to struggle – and he also carefully shows the consequences of a careless word spoken or a selfish action taken.
The characters are never stale or predictable, and they act realistically. For example, where in book one, The Knighting of Sir Kaye, readers see Kaye modeling the importance of not reacting to teasing, by book four, The Eldridge Conspiracy, we see him really struggling when he can’t shake the nickname, Sir Donkey, and it begins to affect him and the decisions he makes. Readers will see Kaye go off course a bit when his pride gets in the way and he’s sidetracked by unimportant distractions. Fortunately, Kaye grows and reflects – and even self-diagnoses – to recognize and remedy his shortcomings. It was heartbreaking to see the pressure Kaye put upon himself to not only save his father, but to save his father like a hero (a knight) would save him. When Kaye reveals that his fear is that his father will die being disappointed in Kaye, my heart nearly broke.
Cue Reggie – the ultimate cheerleader and best friend. Reggie, who has heartbreaking struggles of his own due to his dyslexia and upbringing, shows growth and increasing self-awareness and amazing insight, especially as he observes Kaye and his quest to be just like his father. Reggie saves the day on many levels in The Eldridge Conspiracy, but you’ll get no spoilers here. Suffice it to say that Reggie is more of a hero than any knight in the stories. I could talk for hours about the virtues of Reggie and the value of having a character like him play a major role in the book. (Go ahead, ask me some time.)
As with all the Sir Kaye books, in The Eldridge Conspiracy, Don Winn doesn’t disappoint. The book is cleanly edited, and the writing is full of figurative language and words that put readers perfectly in the moment (like mud sliding off a hill and making a “sloppy whumping noise.”) Winn has a wonderfully engaging story line full of adventure and richly described settings and characters. The ending was excellent, and the brilliance of Reggie’s idea to metaphorically put one of Kaye’s problems to rest was especially satisfying.
The Sir Kaye series is like vitamin fortified cereal. Kids will devour the stories while getting a sneaky but healthy dose of the good stuff that fuels them. In a world where it’s sometimes hard to find positive role models, the Sir Kaye series is an excellent and highly recommended reading choice.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE STUDY GUIDE:
The newly published Study Guide for the Sir Kaye the Boy Knight Series is absolutely icing on the cake for this series. Not only does it include book-by-book lesson plans, there are games, activities, and vocabulary spotlights that support and explore the main themes of the stories. Also included is a section of supplemental historical material about the middle ages. Readers are again treated to the wonderful illustrations by Dave Allred as everything from jousting to dental care is explored. (These pages reminded me of the library’s always checked-out, fascinating DK (Dorling Kindersley) Eyewitness books.) The study guide is a fabulous tool for educators to be able to teach a fascinating unit on medieval times. Bonus: it has a beautiful cover!
Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author for providing me a print copy in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. This full review plus other features on Hall Ways Blog kristinehallways.blogspot.com
This charming chapter book is told from the point of view of Reggie, a dyslexic boy who wants nothing more than to be a writer of chronicles despite his learning difference. Through Reggie’s eyes, we see the story unfold of how a group of friends can band together to fight even the most menacing of foes to save their king and country from being overthrown by a treasonous baron.
Within the pages of this book, young readers will discover adventure, mystery, loyalty, and friendship. There’s something in this book for every reader. There are brave knights, both young and adult, there are castles, ships, horses, abbeys, and midnight escapes from blundering bad guys.
What I really loved (besides the awesome, swash-buckling story) was that there are lovely illustrations throughout the book, placed almost strategically to give young readers a chance to pause reading and reinforce the story with some visual imagery. Fantastic, I tell ya!
When I was a kid, I would have loved reading this book. I won’t give away (too many) spoilers here, because this book deserves to be devoured like a delicious piece of cake.
Needless to say, this book has a satisfying ending. And, no, I won’t tell you how it ends. You’ll have to discover it by yourself. What I will tell you is this- the author dedicates this book to all dyslexic and struggling readers. That endeared me immediately to this book and this author. Follow this blog tour and discover the study guide that goes along with this book. You won’t regret it!
I encourage readers of all ages and reading levels to grab a copy of this book for summer reading. And grab a copy for a friend while you’re at it. Also, don’t forget that you can scroll down for a chance to ENTER TO WIN a copy of Sir Kay The Boy Knight!
Henceforth, I knight this book with 5 Gleaming Illustrious Stars!
Sir Kaye’s latest quest to save his father, Sir Henry, sends all three boys into dangerous territory as the events from book 3 (Legend of the Forest Beast) have put them in danger of being captured by the two minions of Baron Thomas, who will stop at nothing to be King.
Sir Kaye continues to suffer from excessive pride as he struggles to be the perfect knight like his father. His ridiculous nickname, Sir Donkey, follows him where ever he goes, stinging his pride and making him feel like he will always be a fool and never make his father proud. Reggie also continues to struggle with self doubt because of his dismal writing skills. But the boys are quite clever and ingenious in figuring out plans of escape and rescue by working together and leveraging all of their skills and strengths.
What’s fantastic about all of these books is that the feelings of inadequacy, failure, excessive pride, and jealousy that these boys face are real-life struggles that can be difficult (but not impossible) to shake and overcome. The valuable lessons they learn by the end of The Eldridge Conspiracy show that the boys have matured and can appreciate their skills and the knowledge that everyone must all forge their own path and discover their own unique talents.
The study guide for the entire series is chock full of games/activities, main themes, reading comprehension questions, and all sorts of useful information about life in the middle ages, castles, food, knights, storytelling, jousting, and even knitting. This guide is a great learning companion for all four books.