Roland Wright: Future Knight
Author: Tony Davis; Illustrator: Gregory Rogers
Pages: 160
Publisher/Date: Delacorte Press/Random House, 2009
ISBN: 9780385738002
Age Levels: 6-11

Book Review

Update, 2015: Be sure to check out the other books in this series: Roland Wright: At the Joust; Roland Wright: Brand-New Page. These are particulary popular with our male readers and have "hooked" many a reluctant reader.

Ten-year-old Roland Wright’s goal in life is to become a knight. The only obstacle standing in his way: His father is a blacksmith and owner of a forge. As any English subject knows, only the sons of noblemen can become knights.

Much to everyone’s surprise, a message arrives one day from King John. While in battle, the king was struck in the shoulder by a poisoned bolt fired from a crossbow. Thankfully, he was saved because of the strong, steel-plated armor made by Roland’s father, Oliver Wright. To express his gratitude, the king offers to take one of Wright’s sons into the royal household to be trained as a page—the first step on the road to knighthood.

Oliver Wright decides to hold a contest—a series of trials—to see which of his two sons is best suited to training as a knight and which is best suited to running the forge. Shelby, the older of the two, is bigger, stronger, and sneaky. Roland, however, has practiced his sword skills daily.

Roland, sure that his older brother will win the competition, travels to ask the advice of a local knight, Sir Gallawood. When Gallawood asks Roland what he thinks he needs to know before the contest, Roland replies:
Well, I need to know how to bash and crash and stab and slice and dice and pound. . . And I need to know how to smite people. All the great knights smite their enemies, so I need to know how to do that as well.
Sir Gallawood informs Roland that being a knight involves more than smiting people. Knights are honorable, loyal, and have good manners. Most importantly, Gallawood says, "The object of a contest is not to beat your opponent, but to be true to yourself, to behave justly and never selfishly."

When the day of the contest arrives, Roland takes to heart Sir Gallawood’s advice and, though it means giving Shelby the upper hand at times, behaves in a noble and generous fashion. After creating wooden swords, tilting the quintain, displaying chivalry, and competing in an archery contest, Roland is sure that Shelby has proven himself the stronger of the two and that he, Roland, has lost the opportunity to train as a knight. He resigns himself to becoming an armorer. The next day, after thoughtful contemplation, Oliver Wright chooses Roland to go to court to train as a page.

The story ends as a joyous Roland prepares to make his way to the king’s castle—and his future.

Tony Davis successfully combines humor and just enough historical detail to create a delightfully clever chapter book that will draw in even your most reluctant reader. The spot-art illustrations are funny and add much to this medieval tale.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2009 Education Oasis

About the Author

Tony Davis has always worked with words. He has been a book publisher, a magazine editor, and a newspaper writer. Becoming an author has been his most difficult but exciting job yet. Davis is the author of bestselling adult and children's nonfiction in his native Australia.

About the Illustrator

Gregory Rogers has illustrated many children's books. He won Britain's prestigious Kate Greenway Medal for distinguished illustration.

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