“The greatest are those who serve the least. Do you see, Gallant? By learning to be a servant, you have learned to be a knight. And all this was done in the context of the Holy Scriptures — the Bible, which is our guide to a virtuous life.”
The author, Mary Bustamante, sent me a copy of this book in exchange for sharing an honest review of it. I receive requests from authors to read and review their books pretty regularly, and I usually decline, but this one intrigued me for a couple of reasons. One is that I believe there is a need to recover biblical masculinity in our culture, and secondly, because I have two grandsons who I can share this book with when they get a bit older. The description of Raising Sir Gallant reminded me of the historical fiction novels of G. A. Henty, whose books I love.
Raising Sir Gallant is a charming sort of “coming of age” story of a young boy who is given the opportunity to train to become a knight. But the training Gallant receives is not what he initially expects or hopes for. He is so excited to wear a suit of armor, ride a big war horse, and learn to joust and fight with a sword. But week after week, his lessons with Sir Francis consist of “tedious things not fit for a knight,” as he thinks. “Why do knights need to learn how to plant vegetables? Or count and measure? I brush his horse and fetch his food. I am nothing more than an ordinary servant!” Gallant complains to himself. But Sir Francis knows that before a boy is ready to learn to handle a steed or wield a sword he must first train his mind and manners and develop the heart of a knight. Meanwhile, throughout the period of his training, Gallant harbors a secret that haunts him with a feelings of shame and guilt. He knows it is something he must confess and deal with, but what will his parents and Sir Francis think of him when they learn of what he did?
The story uses situations to teach character building such as the importance of honesty and integrity, hard work, respect for parents and authority, self-control, kindness, patience, generosity, bravery, and self sacrifice. The story teaches that every life has value, no matter where they are socially or economically. Throughout the story are sprinkled Bible verses and biblical principals, although it be from a medieval religious point-of-view. The lessons that come through in this story transcend time, and are still relevant and valuable for our young ones today. Each chapter ends with a couple of questions for thought and a list of vocabulary words for the young reader.
Raising Sir Gallant meets the standards I looked for when choosing literature for my children when I homeschooled them, which I talk about on my Blog intro page. It depicts a Love for Home and Family, Love for God and His Word, Love for the Individual, and a Love for Learning. It stresses that the internal is more important than the external. I highly recommend this book for children ages 8-12, although older children and even adults will enjoy it as well. The author’s book oriented towards girls, entitled Raising Lady Grace, is expected to come out later this year.
On her website, SirGallant.com, Ms. Bustamante has supplemental teaching materials available to accompany her book, such as a workbook, crafts, and other hands-on related items to enhance the child’s learning experience as they read through Raising Sir Gallant.
What books that teach character building for children do you recommend?