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“Might should be used only in the service of the greater good,” Erec. —Knights vs. Dinosaurs
Knights vs. Dinosaurs
by Matt Phelan
AR Test, Good for Reluctant Readers
For the Knights of Camelot, peace has brought boredom. They don’t have much to do, and most have never seen a dragon. During the knightly feast, the knights begin to boast about their heroic deeds. When Sir Erec boasts that he slew forty dragons on his last quest, Merlin decides to teach the knights a lesson and sends them on an adventure.
Four knights and one squire enter a cave and come out during another time. Suddenly, they are surrounded by the most terrible lizards of all: dinosaurs. Will the knights be able to survive the snapping jaws of these gigantic lizards?
Fast-paced, funny, and full of surprises, Knights vs. Dinosaurs blends graphic-style illustrations with a unique adventure. Black-and-white illustrations are scattered throughout the story, and several of the graphic-novel style battles appear over multiple pages. As each knight goes off alone, they encounter different terrible lizards. Seeing each knight’s perception of the different dinosaurs adds interest and humor to the story.
The knights engage in battle after battle, but the story still develops each knight’s unique personality. Sir Hector clearly loves books. Sir Bors believes that, “Might makes right.” The Black Knight is silent and skilled. The characters don’t only clash with the dinosaurs, they also clash with each other. In the end, the knights’ adventures teach them the dangers of boasting and the necessity of working together. The knights discover that each one of them has a specific talent and they need to take advantage of each person’s strengths and work together in order to survive.
For those who like knights, dinosaurs, and battles, Knights vs. Dinosaurs has an entertaining, engaging story that will keep readers turning the page. Younger readers may find some of the vocabulary difficult. In order to create the same feel as medieval times, difficult words such as lummox, smote, peruse, and inscrutable are used. This is the perfect book for reluctant readers who want to fall into a fabulously funny story.
- When the knights leave the cave, a dinosaur “snatched him up in its mighty jaws. The beast lifted Bors twenty feet off the ground and shook him like a puppy’s chew toy. Fortunately, Bors’s armor held.” When the Black Knight enters the fight, “a broadsword to the lower leg made the creature toss Bors aside.”
- The knights see a group of dinosaurs and the “attacking cows” stampede. “Erec was knocked aside. Bors tripped over Erec’s leg. His sword flew straight up, then came back down. Bors, eyes bulging, shifted just as the sword struck the ground an inch from his chest.” The knights retreat.
- When two of the knights begin arguing, another knight tries to break up the argument but “was kicked in the shin for his effort. So he kicked back instead. They pushed. They slapped. They fell over. It was clanging and awkward.”
- When Erec sees a dinosaur, he charges it with his lance. “The creature charged. Erec charged. His lance hit the creature directly between the eyes. The beast grunted, veering off to the side.” The battle is described in words and pictures over four pages. At one point, the creature “scooped him off the ground. It shook him once, twice, three times, then tossed him aside like a twig.”
- One of the knights sees a group of dinosaurs that look like chickens. He assumes they are friendly, but one of them “locked its little jaws around Hector’s finger, clamping down hard with a row of tiny razor-sharp teeth.” Hector hits the dinosaurs with a book, but then “even more appeared. . . Hector tripped and was instantly set upon by the tiny, vicious cuties. They scratched, nibbled and pecked at the noble knight.”
- A knight sees a dinosaur, and the two “squared off. They burst into action at the same moment, bludgeoning and punching, biting and kicking.” The two fight until a bigger, fighting dinosaur appears. Both the knight and the dinosaur run into the woods.
- The knights take a swim in a lake. Suddenly, “The lake erupted beneath them as an enormous serpent broke the surface . . . the serpent dived for Erec.” The knights battle the serpent over the course of five pages. One of the knights throws a rock, and “it sailed straight to Magdelena’s hand, and in one smooth movement she brought it down on the serpent’s head. The creature ceased its struggle instantly and sank below the surface, down to the depths.”
- A flying lizard grabs a knight and takes her to its nest. The knight almost becomes food for a newborn dinosaur.
- The knights work together to fight a T-Rex. “Erec was the first to find himself lifted several feet off the ground. His armor kept the teeth from puncturing his vital organs, but the pressure of the monster’s bite was tremendous . . .” The battle is described in words and in pictures over ten pages. In the end, Sir Bors “brought his sword down on the monster’s foot . . .He swung one powerful fist in a precisely placed uppercut. The punch connected. The terrible lizard’s eyes crossed . . .” The dinosaur topples over and the knights escape. To prove that they battled the dinosaur, a knight “grabbed a single tooth and pulled and pulled and tore it right out of the king’s gum. It opened its mouth in a roar of pain.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- The Black Knight takes off her helmet for the first time, and “wine was spit out in surprise.”
- Occasionally the knights call each other names including “dunderhead” and “oaf.” One knight is called a “bookworm.”
- When Merlin sends the knights on a quest, they enter a cave and are magically transported into another time period.
- Some believe that Merlin has an enchanted owl that writes and draws. Two knights argue about if an owl can write. One replies, “Merlin enchanted us to this wretched place. I should think he could manage to teach an owl to draw.” The ending of the book shows the owl working on a book.