One Saturday in March, I took a break from my book challenges and picked up Cornelia Funke’s Ghost Knight which is a great middle school age thrilling ghost story. The book begins with Jon Whitcroft being shipped off to a boarding school in Salisbury, England by his mother and his future step-father, who he not so affectionately refers to as the “Beard.” As he grows accustom to his new life as a yet another literary boarding school student, a gang of ghosts gradually establish a routine of harassing him. Fed up with the harassing, he, with his new friend Ela, seek the aid of my tall, probably hot ancestor William Longespèe (according to Andrea Offermann’s illustrations for the book), who’s body is conveniently buried at Salisbury Cathedral. I doubt I will ever say all those words in the same sentence ever again unless somewhere in the gene pools I stem from there is a taller and hotter ancestor lurking.
Just a reminder, this book is a work of fiction. At times, it might seem hard to distinguish the difference between fiction and reality, because of Funke’s perfect combination of the two. This book reminded me a lot of Eva Ibbotson’s works (perfectly combining those aspects and still making the book appropriate for younger audiences). I loved the portrayal of the main characters, particularly Longespèe and “The Beard” really stood out for me. There personalities are distinct from each other and more three-dimensional in their character development than I expected. Also, the book is quick read, I finished it in about one day. Even though a great deal of the book is dedicated to darker tones such as death and murder, I found the story optimistic and more of a coming of age for Jon. For some reason, I felt a bit better about myself and the place I am right now in my life. Perhaps, I feel this way, because of the laid back atmosphere around me as I read the book which was a quiet peaceful Dunkin’ Donuts on a slightly cloudy Saturday afternoon in March sipping a tea.
Here I will add a quick dialogue between one of the students at the school I work in and I about this book:
“Where is it?” He asked looking around the bookshelves.
“By Cornelia Funke?”
|A beautiful illustration of the inside of Salisbury Cathedral
including Longespèe’s tomb by Andrea Offermann
“Yeah, I guess. This guy read it us last year and did a posh British accent. Where is it? Found it!”
“I read that book.”
The Ghost Knight is my ancestor.”
“Who is he anyway?”
“William Longespèe. He was a knight, illegitimate son of King Henry II, fought in the Crusades, and you know those type of things. He was also the half brother to King Richard, the Lionheart, and King John.”
“I’m also a descendant of King John.”
“Bad King John?”
“Ahh..I was going to ask that next. heh..what a loser he was having to sign the Magna Carta.”
I’m not quite sure if my little dark heart swelled that the student remembered the book, or actually paid attention in history and remembered that King John signed the Magna Carta. Either way, I was impressed.