Three Knight Tales
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A Story of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen
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Federico II was a fascinating man in whom it seems that much of the Middle Ages, its greatness and its turmoil, were gathered up into one person. Christopher Sblendorio, a class teacher at the Great Barrington Waldorf School, has written this beautiful biography of the man who became the Holy Roman Emperor during the early 13th Century. It is frankly all too rare to find a book for students that is so very well researched and equally well written as is The Falconer.
Splendorio's biography does what every biography should do: it approaches its subject with what I'll call a compassionate objectivity that looks at as many facets of the life that was lived as are possible to know about. The story moves along like an exciting novel, the portrait of Federico becoming richer and more alive with each turn of the page.
This wonderful book could be read and enjoyed by anyone ages 11-12 and older. It was written with the author's 6th grade class in mind.
Legends of King Arthur
Medieval Stories Collected and Retold
Formerly published as Tales the Harper Sang
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Enter a world of duels and jousting, where knights battle to protect the honor of fair maidens and defend King Arthur’s castle. Knights meet in fellowship at Camelot, where they are entertained with feasts and pageantry. Honor and chivalry are valued above all else, and courageous knights fight strange, unearthly foes to prove themselves worthy of a place at King Arthur’s table.
These ancient tales have been told since the fifth century, when Welsh bards traveled the countryside, entertaining lords and ladies with stories and songs. Those exciting tales were retold in verse by Chretien de Troyes in his twelfth-century Le morte d’Arthur and in prose by Sir Thomas Malory during the fifteenth century.
The book includes a selection of these enthralling legends, skillfully retold by renowned storyteller Isabel Wyatt.
The Story of King Arthur
and Other Celtic Heroes
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After more than a thousand years, the Celts stand among the world's greatest story tellers. Even now, their tales are alive with wonder and excitement. To have Padraic Colum, one of the best storytellers ever retell the Celtic tales of King Arthur and his knights is almost too good to be true. These are story young and old will enjoy and return to time and again.
Very highly recommended for ages 9 and older.
The Story of King Arthur and His Knights
Told and illustrated
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Personally, I love all of Howard Pyle's retellings of classic tales. This one I especially love -- Pyle's sense for who Arthur is and his love of all the stories that go forth from that wondrous Round Table shines through every word and chapter. His line drawing illustrations add a feel for the period along with some often subtle indications of the quality of character of the one who is his subject.
In this volume, Pyle begins by showing how Arthur established his right to the throne by drawing the sword from the anvil and how he battled to secure his sword, Excalibur, "the most beautiful and the most famous sword in all the world." Then follow Arthur's confrontations with the Duke of North Umber and Sir Pellias, his wooing and wedding of the Lady Guinevere, and the creation of the Round Table. Arthur's knights have their share of tales, too, and we meet Merlin the Wise, Sir Gawaine, Sir Pellias and more.
These are the classic tales of the Arthurian legend, told and illustrated by a master. Whether read to younger children (9+) or given to an older student (12+) to read on his or her own, these are great stories told greatly.
The Story of the Grail and the Passing of Arthur
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Howard Pyle's wonderful retelling of the Arthurian legends have captivated children and adults for generations. This is one of the best of the series -- Pyles rich chronicle of the Quest for the Holy Grail and the last days of King Arthur.
The book begins with the exciting story of Sir Geraint -- his fight with the knight of Sparrow-Hawk, his setting right the wrongs of the earldom, how he destroyed three giants of the highway and more. The Pyle takes up the exploits of Sir Galahad ("the most perfect knight who ever lived"): his initiation into knighthood, how he came to the court of King Arthur, his attack on Sir Launcelot, his fatal battle with Sir Mordred and Arthur's final journey to Avalon.
With language that evokes the days of Camelot and 39 of Pyle's atmospheric illustrations, The Story of the Grail is wonderful to read or hear.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Retold in Modern Prose by Jessie L. Weston
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I think that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of the deepest and finest stories in all of English literature -- the sort of story that you can return to again and again in your mind, and always come away with a new bit of insight about life, and groups and the nature of love and honor.
The story begins when a gigantic stranger clad in green bursts in on King Arthur's New Year's feast to issue a fearsome challenge to the knights of the Round Table: Any of the assembled knights may strike off the stranger's head - but that knight must be willing to receive a similar blow from teh Green Knight in one year's time. Only the gallant Gawain volunteers to uphold the dignity of Camelot. Sir Gawain the the Green Knight recounts Gawain's adventures as he seeks to fulfill his pledge to the Green Knight
The tale dates from the 14th Century or earlier and blends older pre-Christian symbols and understandings with Christian ethics and the Divine Feminine, celebrating the virtue of forgiveness. It also raises some fascinating questions about the role of human imperfection within a group, implying within the story that there can be no real acceptance by a group without such imperfection becoming visible. This is an amazing story!
This modern prose version of the Middle English poem makes it accessible, whether you are a teacher or parent wishing to learn the story to tell to 6th graders, or would like to have your high school or college students read it themselves. Of course, there's nothing wrong with buying a copy just to enjoy yourself, too.
Beyond the Forest
The Story of Parsifal and the Grail
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This wonderful retelling is so multi-layered and engaging that it is appropriate for everyone ages 10 and up. It reads and tells like a breath of fresh air - very highly recommended!!!
The Grail Quest is an archetypal story of the journey of humanity and of each person. Parsifal's search for wholeness - passed down by generations of storytellers - is re-told vividly by Kelvin Hall.
There is a Parsifal in every one of us as we move from the innocence and naivete of forgetting, through courage and surrender, to love and redemption. Impaired by fear, bewilderment, loss and misunderstanding, we learn to trust the intuition of the heart as well as accepting the wisdom and support of others on the way.
This ancient story, told by Wolfram von Eschenbach in the Middle Ages, asks us why we hold back from asking the compassionate question. It shows how this can result in suffering, and that by engaging with the suffering of others, we acknowledge our own. This brings forth the possibility for renewal.
"The story of Parsifal is close to my heart, and Kelvin Hall's gift is to bring it closer to all our hearts in a language that can truly speak to us now."
- Jay Ramsay
Kelvin Hall was first told the Parsifal story by his future wife, Barbara. Storyteller at Ruskin Mill, Gloucestershire, he is well-known on the festival circuit. He won the Hodja Cup for Lying and Tall Stories at the Crick Crack Club.
Parzival & Gawain
Two Plays from The Grail
A. M. Miller
Translated and edited by Daniel J. Polikof
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A beautiful way to encounter the archetypal characters of the Grail legends, whether you already know the stories or not. These plays read beautifully and are suitable for high school and community drama performance.
A worthy contribution to the Grail literature, Daniel Polikoff's inspired translation captures the high drama and lyric beauty of Miller's art. These dramatic recastings of the German original build a bridge to modern times, and admirably reflect the ideals and enthusiasm for the spirit that the Grail legends evoke in so many seekers.
Bruce T. Donehower, PhD University of California, Davis
Parsifal and the Search for the Grail
Teacher resource for Waldorf High School Grade 11 World Literature
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The Parsifal story stands between the past age that looked for secrets of the spirit, and the coming age that was going to search for search for the secrets of matter. Charles Kovacs covers both the background history and the legendary story of Parsifal, keeping his focus on one of the central problems of our time -- learning to ask the right questions.
Anyone teaching this story, or wishing to broaden their own understanding of it, will find in Kovacs' presentation clarity, depth and an infectious interest in the subject.
The Quest for the Holy Grail
Illustrated by David Newbatt
Based on Wolfram von Eschenbach's epic poem as translated by Mustard and Passage - retold by David Newbatt
Hardbound, Dust-jacketed, Large Format, Gloriously Illustrated!
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Parzival is one of the great classic stories of the last millennium, a colourful tale from the time of knighthood, full of romance, love and adventure.
David Newbatt's illustrations in this book bring a refreshingly vivid and direct interpretation of the Quest for the Holy Grail. The accompanying text gives a brief introduction to some of the many characters and events portrayed in this epic tale, in a clear and concise way.
It is the artist's intent that his (sumptuous!!) book be a lively introduction to Eschenbach's great work, not a replacement. However, the joy of discovery that awaits the reader, whether or not you are familier with the original story, is so exciting that this book itself can be the source of hours of pleasure and deepened understanding about our own human story.
Parzival is a great story for reading by the fireside. It is also a deep and intense piece of literature in which is portrayed an individual's archetypal biography, which can speak to us today in our own search for the modern Grail Temple.
Celtic Myths and Legends
T. W. Rolleston
with 76 illustrations from the original edition as well as background essays on the history and culture of the Celts
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For those who would like to learn something about the people behind the great Celtic myths, this edition is a gift. Originally published in 1917, it gathers together in one place pretty much the full core of Celtic mythology and historical legends. The author, in addition to lending these stories a voice through which the magic and panoply of these tales that now belong to the entire world, also illuminates the world of the Celts through his introductory essays. Those essays, in my opinion, make this book a resource to be treasured.
As for the stories, they are pure enchantment. Focusing mainly on Irish myths, Rolleston takes us into the myths of the Irish invasion and the early Milesian kings. You'll meet Queen Maev, Cuchulain the Giant, King Arthur and his knights (including the Grail quest) and much more.
In the Waldorf curriculum, these stories will fit nicely into the history and literature of the 6th grade. Outside Waldorf schools, I would recommend them for anyone 12 or older.
Celtic Folk and Fairy Tales
Collected by Joseph Jacobs
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This collection of Celtic tales is most noteworthy for its inclusion of many tales that are (at least in our day and age) "for adults only." Or, at least for those over 13 or so. For this, we owe him a great debt of gratitude, as these tales give glimpses into the life of the Celtic peoples, most often in relationship to the incoming Christian religion. This sort of glimpse into a more living history is rare and informs in ways that simple statements about the outcomes of battles, who ruled whom and when and so forth cannot do. I can't recommend reading these and other such tales to highly - they are treasures.
There are, though, several stories you may happily share with children: "Jack the Cunning Thief," "The Greek Princess and the Young Gardener," "The Russet Dog" and many others. For these tales, this book will find a place as stories at bedtime and in lessons - many are relatively unknown and quite wonderful, too.
For children ages 7 and up when wisely selected by an adult; for adolescents and adults on their own.
The Age of Discovery
Waldorf curriculum resource for Grade 7 History
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Another amazing resource by Charles Kovacs - this time for the Age of Discovery period of history as taught in 7th Grade in Waldorf schools. The Age of Discovery covers the period from the Crusades to the Renaissance and includes Saladin, Joan of Arc, Henry the Navigator, Columbus, Magellan, Queen Elizabeth I, Francis Drake and more. This is a nearly exhaustive presentation of this portion of the Waldorf curriculum -- additionally, it is great reading, riveting the way adventure stories often are. Given that this is a period of Western history that in many was was the most adventurous, that should perhaps come as no surprise.
Struggle and Victory
Translated by Monica Gold
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Originally published in 1949, this lively book is an established treasure in Germany. It depicts the life struggles and striving of the Polish astronomer Nikolaus Copernicus and makes a wonderful reader for seventh and eighth grade Waldorf classes, as well as an excellent book for anyone interested in Copernicus and his world.
Hardbound, large format
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My Alsace is one of the most beautiful children's histories ever written. Would that all history texts children encounter were this richly illustrated and written with as much heart. My own training is in History; I very highly recommend this book.
Here's the background story:
Alsace is a region in the east of today’s France that has changed hands four times between France and Germany during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. When Hansi (born Jean-Jacques Waltz) was born in 1873, it had been two years since the Prussian army marched into Alsace, and the province remained under German annexation until the end of World War I.
Hansi recalled his years at the German school in Colmar as among the worst of his life. Above all, he hated the history lessons, in which the teacher forced the French students to learn about Prussian conquests and the defeat and humiliation of French Alsace.
In 1912, Hansi decided to write his own history of Alsace for children. He wanted to show them how much pride they could have in their past and to hear the story from their own side. His history portrays Alsace from the time when the Celts ruled the land through Middle Ages, the Age of Revolution and the German occupation through World War I. It is notable that Alsace is the birthplace/home of St. Odile, a saint often studied in Waldorf Education. My Alsace offers a beautiful, concise portrait of Alsace at the time of St. Odile.
The first edition was published in Paris with great success. However, because of its satirical gibes at all things German, Hansi was given a heavy fine and a warning from the German authorities in Colmar. Soon after, he was sentenced to a year in prison for “insulting the German officer corps.”
The present book is a hand-picked selection of L’Histoire d’Alsace and L’Alsace Heureuse by Hansi. It is full of his trademark colorful and detailed pictures of Alsatian life, as well as his critical and humorous portrayals of the occupying Germans.