Title: The Little Duke
Author: Charlotte Yonge
Major Themes: Castles, Knights, Normandy, Richard the Fearless
Synopsis: After the death of his father, Richard Duke of Normandy must watch out for enemies and decide how to treat his foes when they are in his power.
I had The Little Duke loaded on my Kindle for quite some time, but never got around to reading it until I picked up a hard copy at a book sale. This is quite a sweet book, as it turns out. It’s written for children. Though it was first published in 1854, it is quite an easy read, not overly wordy or preachy like so many books written in that era.
Richard was only eight years old when his father died, making him the Duke of Normandy sometime in the 10th century. The King of France came to visit him, and won his confidence through flattery—but then took him prisoner. The King’s two sons were to be Richard’s playmates, but the older of the two delighted in tormenting him. After Richard’s escape, when he found himself in control of the King’s sons, would he remember the lessons he had been taught from his earliest days, to return good for evil? Or would he harshly punish those who had treated him so ill?
The Little Duke is based on the life of the young Richard the Fearless, who lived in the 10th century. It is a gentle introduction to the age of knights and castles, without a lot of the violence found in stories such as the King Arthur tales. I liked the way Richard treated his enemies with love. He was loyal to his supporters, those who cared for him after the death of his parents. I’m planning to read this book to my boys someday, or have them listen to an audio version of it.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12, 10 – 12