Monday, February 4, 2013

The Sunflower Sword by Mark Sperring {The Children's Bookshelf}

The other night, Sprout came home from preschool and over a plate of noodles and cheese, announced, "Ninja turtles have guns and they will shoot you dead."


It would appear we have entered that stage of the game, where what the oh-so-alluring older boy at preschool tells you absorbs into your consciousness fully. For the record, we aren't in favor of guns for our kiddo, play or otherwise. We're firm on that. And so this off-the-cuff ninja turtle comment elicited a response from Mama and Daddy, after a suitable period of non-commentary, where we talked with Sprout about guns and knives and how we don't feel that kind of play is appropriate, and why. It's not going to be the last conversation we have on the subject, and we aren't so naive as to think that he won't play guns and shooting and so forth. But we want to make our no-tolerance position clear from the beginning.

So it seemed fitting that a book we recently checked out move its way up to the top of the book stack. The Sunflower Sword by Mark Sperring is a wonderful book for many reasons: it's colorful, fun to read, and has some of Sprout's favorite things in it (knights! dragons! fire-breathing!). But what we like most is the narrative: a young boy wants to go fight dragons as he sees the grown-up knights do. He longs to swing his mighty blade and vanquish the dreaded beasts on his own.

Trouble is, Mom won't let him have a sword. Instead, she gives him -- a sunflower.

Well, what's a guy to do with that? Sure, it swishes through the air pretty fine, but fighting seems out of the question. Sighing, our little would-be knight makes his way up to Dragon Hill, making the best use he can out of his sunflower by sparring with imaginary dragons. But then, he runs into -- you guessed it -- a real dragon. Now how will a sunflower help our hero stand up to this fearsome beast?

Sperring's got an important message here, which wraps up with a satisfying conclusion. I appreciate that the conflict isn't resolved too easily - the knight doesn't warm to his mother's suggestion until he considers how it could best be used, and it works. That message, coupled with adorably snaggle-toothed dragons created by illustrator Miriam Latimer, brings the whole point home in a way that's subtle and yet powerful.

Whether you want to encourage nonviolent play or work on resolving conflicts creatively, The Sunflower Sword makes a great addition to bookshelves at home and in the classroom. [Sunflowers not included.]

The Sunflower Sword by Mark Sperring, published by Andersen Press
Ages 3-7
Source: Library
Sample: "Then he whooshed and swooshed it, just to see how well it whooshed and swooshed. / It whooshed and swooshed very well. 'But,' said the little knight, 'it won't be any good for fighting dragons.' 'No,' sighed his mother, 'I don't suppose it will, but keep it anyway.'"


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Mud Hut Mama said...

Wow! This sounds like a great (and timely) book. I hadn't heard of it before so thanks so much for sharing.

PragmaticMom said...

That book sounds adorable for little boys who love weapons (like my own!), sigh!

Erica MomandKiddo said...

I haven't heard of this one, but I really want to read it now!