Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction, Picture Books

Arthur: The Always King by Kevin Crossley-Holland & Chris Riddell

The legends of King Arthur are eternal. Much like the title of this gorgeous book, he will forever be “The Always King”. Keven Crossley-Holland and Chris Riddell have come together to create a book absolutely worthy of the timeless stories it holds.

Each stage of Arthur’s life is retold with language that will engage and entertain. Children will be swept into the heart of the legends with rhythmic words and phrasing that shape the myth and magic of the tales. Kevin Crossley-Holland has captured the weight of these stories – the essence that has given them their longevity and value in the history of storytelling.

Chris Riddell’s illustrations are bursting with adventure, beauty and enough gruesome death and destruction to remind readers that these aren’t your average traditional tales. King Arthur and his knights were brave, determined men who would stop at nothing to achieve their dreams. Each face carries its own personality and strength, communicating the emotion of the story in a way that words can’t. The stories and illustrations weave together perfectly to lift key moments off the pages with stunning detail. There is so much to look at. Readers are sure to return again and again to revisit favourite pages or delve deeper into the incredible storytelling.

Last week, my daughters and I had the wonderful experience of seeing Merlin performed by Northern Ballet in Leeds. Unravelling the story of young Merlin just coming to terms with his power, we were mesmerised by the beautiful interpretation of the old stories. The ballet ended with Ygraine (Ygerna) and Uther discovering they were to have a baby – Arthur. This new ballet is full of strength, battles for power and explosive fight scenes. With a large number of male dancers, it turns more traditional ballet on its head. My girls’ favourite part of the ballet was the Lady of the Lake and Excalibur. When they spotted these same stunning images in Arthur: The Always King, they immediately wanted to explore the pages.

Arthur: The Always King would make a wonderful gift for anyone – young or old – who has been enchanted by Arthurian legends or who would enjoy discovering them for the first time. This is a book to be cherished, picked up over and over, and saved to pass on to the next generation. Through timeless stories and captivating illustrations, Kevin Crossley-Holland and Chris Riddell have created something extraordinary.

Thank you to Walker Books for this wonderful book that we will treasure and share.

Be sure to follow the rest of the blog tour for an interview with the author and other insights into this incredible book.

Click on the cover below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.

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