*Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal*
In 14th-century England, Alys de Renneville sits alone in the loft of her manor house mourning her father and brother who are thought to have been killed in battle in Scotland. Late one evening, a strange knight appears and tells Alys that her father and brother are alive and being held for ransom by the Scots. When no one believes her story, she sets off secretly to rescue them herself.
Traveling on horseback across the lush countryside and dense cities of medieval England, Alys is accompanied only by her friend and servant, Hugh. Alys and Hugh show great courage and determination, but the journey is arduous and they encounter many delays and hardships along the way. Will they reach Scotland in time to save Alys’s father and brother?
Barbara Leonie Picard (1917–2011) was the author of over twenty-five books, all of which have received praise for the mature and thought-provoking fare they offer young readers. Her first book was published in 1949. Her works include five historical novels for young adults, many retellings of myths and epics—including the Odyssey and the Iliad, the story of King Arthur, and legends of the Norse gods—and collections of fairy tales. Several of her books have been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, the oldest children's book award in the UK. Paul Dry Books also publishes Picard's book One Is One.
"Her narratives have the ring of tales told by skald and bard, and her choice of words would fill great halls. Her literary fairy tales are lushly romantic, with poetic language and an almost other-worldly knowledge that informs and enriches them. Open one of her books and read it aloud. See how her words will still echo in the storytelling rooms and libraries that have become our great halls." —Janice M. Del Negro
"A fine, authentic, historical tale, valuable for its picture of medieval times." —New York Herald Tribune
From "Something about the Author Series, Volume 10" by Barbara Leonie Picard:
I have never written with children or, indeed, anyone else in mind, but always for myself. I have accepted only commissions which I wanted to write, and refused all others. I have published for money—how many writers have not? We have to eat, after all—but I have never written for money: there is a difference. Any story I have written has been a story I would have wanted to read myself. Indeed, sometimes when there is no other book to hand, I can take up one of my own and read—and even enjoy—it, as though it had been the work of someone else. This probably sounds narcissistic and excessively conceited, but I believe that it is not. There seems to me to be no reason in the world why a story written for one’s own enjoyment should not be read for one’s own enjoyment. [Walter de la Mare once wrote: "Indeed every writer who is notmerely writing books in order to sell them, or in order to teach, to instruct, to edify, or solely to pass the time away… every such writer is writing not only for, but even to himself."] Of course, reading what one has written years before is not unalloyed pleasure. Too often one finds oneself wincing at a word and thinking, "That is wrong, it should be so-and-so," or pausing at a clumsy phrase and saying, "I would know better than to put it that way now." Yet, in spite of all such self-criticism, I am able to enjoy reading my own books. If others also should have enjoyed them, this, as it were by-product, can only be for me a bonus, and I am truly glad of any little pleasure I may have given to anyone else. But I can honestly say that, in all my career, the words of this article which you are now reading are the very first which I have written, not for myself, but for others.