Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Those Wacky Crusaders

In one of the classes I teach, we're currently learning about the Crusades, and it brought to mind a funny anecdeote from Jean de Joinville's Life of St. Louis. While on crusade with the King, Jean de Joinville found his tent pitched beside that of the Comte d'Eu. The good count was quite the practical joker, and we get a nice picture of what Crusaders might have done to amuse themselves in their camp.

"I will tell you of the tricks the Count of Eu used to play on us.

I had built a hut, where I used to take my meals, I and my knights lighted through the doorway. Now the doorway gave onto the Count of Eu's quarters; and he, who was very ingenious, made a little machine to throw [rocks] into it, and used to watch when we went to table, and set up his machine in a line with our table and break our jugs and glasses.

I had laid in a stock of hens and capons, and somebody or other had given him a young she-bear, which he let in among my fowls, and it killed a dozen of them, before anyone could get to the spot, while the woman in charge of them was flapping her skirts at the bear."

Oh those wacky Crusaders!


Erica said…
And to think we were worried about all those crickets in your dorm room =D