A Perfect Gentle Knight

BOOK: A Perfect Gentle Knight
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Praise for A
Perfect Gentle Knight

Shortlisted for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz

Children's Book Awards in the
Young Adult/Middle Reader category

Nominated for the SYRCA Snow Willow Award

Shortlisted for the CLA Children's Book of the Year


A Perfect Gentle Knight
shows Pearson at her best: Great writing in a great and gritty tale, told with realism and compassion.”

—
The Hamilton Spectator

“Pearson does a masterful job of creating three dimensional characters, which are not only meticulously crafted for their age but also for the period, and weaving them into a story that is poignant and ultimately heart-warming.…
A Perfect Gentle Knight
is another Kit Pearson gem, destined for awards and, even more importantly, a lot of satisfied readers.”

—
What If?
magazine

“A story that's engaging, suspenseful, and deeply poignant—a psychological novel about both the joy of make-believe and the need to end the pretending.… Perhaps her greatest strength however, is her pitch-perfect sense of the middle-grade novel.”

—Tim Wynne-Jones,
Quill & Quire

“Pearson's gift is to always write straight from the well of childhood feelings. Corrie's inner conflicts and longing will fly right into the hearts of her readers…”

—
Toronto Star

“[An] excellent novel.… Pearson has given her readers a rich and involving story of a family's life, a beautifully imagined and executed one, and a set of characters difficult to leave once this book has been put down.”

—The Globe and Mail

“Kit Pearson is such an accomplished writer that even if
A Perfect Gentle Knight
didn't brim with surprising detail and events, her perfect grasp of the child psyches would make it a page-turner.”

—The Georgia Straight

“Governor General's Award–winning author Kit Pearson has crafted a compelling story about loss, loyalty, and what it means to be a family.… Pearson's talent for creating believable, sympathetic characters is at its peak in
A Perfect Gentle Knight
. Rich in detail, the novel gently evokes the quiet desperation that engulfs the family, and its honesty will leave a lasting impression long after the last page has been read.”

—
The Chronicle Herald

PUFFIN CANADA

A PERFECT GENTLE KNIGHT

KIT PEARSON
was born in Edmonton and grew up there and in Vancouver. Her previous seven novels have been published in Canada, in English and French, and in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, China, and Korea. She has received numerous awards for her writing, including the Governor General's Literary Award for
Awake and Dreaming
and the Vicky Metcalf Award for her body of work. She presently lives in Victoria. Visit her website at
www.kitpearson.com
.

Also by Kit Pearson

The Daring Game

A Handful of Time

The Sky Is Falling

Looking at the Moon

The Lights Go On Again

Awake and Dreaming

This Land: An Anthology of Canadian Stories
for Young Readers
(as editor)

Whispers of War: The War of 1812 Diary
of Susanna Merritt

A Perfect Gentle Knight

KIT PEARSON

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Canada Inc.)

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,
New Delhi – 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0745, Auckland, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank,
Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in a Puffin Canada hardcover by Penguin Group (Canada),
a division of Pearson Canada Inc., 2007

Published in this edition, 2008

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (OPM)

Copyright © Kathleen Pearson, 2007

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

Publisher's note: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Manufactured in the U.S.A.

LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION

Pearson, Kit, 1947–
A perfect gentle knight / Kit Pearson.

ISBN 978-0-14-331258-1

I. Title.
PS8581.E386P47 2008    jC813'.54    C2008-902729-9

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

Visit the Penguin Group (Canada) website at
www.penguin.ca

Special and corporate bulk purchase rates available; please see
www.penguin.ca/corporatesales
or call 1-800-810-3104, ext. 477 or 474

For Lizzie and Gretchen, once my fellow knights,

and for

Joe Mitchell

A Knight there was, and that a worthy man,

That from the moment that he first began

To go on journeys had loved chivalry,

Goodness and honour, freedom and courtesy …

And though he was of high rank, he was wise,

And in his manner meek as is a maid.

He never had to any person said

A word that was not tender, kind and right.

He was a truly perfect gentle knight.

GEOFFREY CHAUCER,
THE CANTERBURY TALES

(
MODERN ENGLISH VERSION BY KIT PEARSON
)

A Perfect Gentle Knight

1

Meredith

“C
orrie,
please
may I play at your house after school today?”

The bell rang, and Corrie had no time to answer before she and Meredith had to line up silently at the girls' entrance. All afternoon Corrie worried about Meredith's question.

Meredith was a new girl. Most of 6A had been together since grade one. The five girls who had always set the rules in the class—Darlene, Gail, Donna, Sharon, and Marilyn—had already decided that Meredith was to be ignored.

Ever since school had started two weeks ago, Corrie had watched Meredith's eager advances being coolly deflected by the rest of the class. It didn't help that Meredith was plump and wore babyish clothes, that she talked too much and wanted so desperately to be liked.

Meredith had turned to Corrie from the start. She stood by Corrie at recess and chattered at her nervously until the bell rang. Now she acted as if she and Corrie were friends. She walked part of the way home with Corrie, and one day the week before she had even invited Corrie over to her house after school.

Corrie's curiosity had made her accept, even though she didn't need friends. Why couldn't Meredith realize that? The other girls had always respected the barrier Corrie had put up and left her alone. Meredith didn't seem to see that barrier.

The trouble was, Corrie liked Meredith. She liked how she spoke in italics, how her dark eyes shone with enthusiasm, how passionate she was about animals. The Five had come back to school talking about rock and roll, and movie stars. Meredith, like Corrie, wasn't interested in those boring topics.

Most of all, Corrie liked Meredith's tidy, clean house, her room full of books, and her friendly parents. Meredith's mother had offered them milk and chocolate chip cookies, and her father had tenderly bandaged Meredith's scraped knee. They were like parents in a TV show.

Corrie dipped her pen into her inkwell, trying to concentrate on copying the spelling words on the board. This was the third time Meredith had asked to come over. If Corrie kept saying no, Meredith would probably never ask Corrie back to her cozy home.

When the bell rang Meredith caught up with her at the door. “So, can I
come
?”

Corrie shrugged. “I guess so. Is it okay with your mum?”

“Yup! I told her at lunch I was going to your house.”

So it was all set. Corrie couldn't help smiling. “Come on,” she said. “Let's go and get the twins.”

“A
ND COULD YOU PLEASE
ensure that they wash their hands before coming into the classroom?” asked a frazzled-looking Miss Tuck, the twins' grade one teacher. Corrie nodded, trying to get away. Every day Miss Tuck had another complaint about Juliet and Orly. They lost their notices. They wouldn't sit still. Orly galloped around the classroom with a ruler for a sword, and Juliet growled whenever she was asked a question.

Corrie grasped two grimy hands and dragged the twins into the rain, despite their protests that they wanted to play with the class hamster.

“I'm fattening him up,” boasted Orly. “I sneaked pieces of my sandwich into his cage. He's going to grow as big as a rat!”

“You're not supposed to feed him—only Miss Tuck does that. He'll get sick if you do. I've told you that, Orly. Why can't you remember? Wait, let me do up your jacket.”

But Orly had dashed ahead with Juliet. Both unzipped jackets were half off as the twins jumped into puddles and skimmed their hands along wet hedges.

“They're so
wild
,” said Meredith. “Like two little savages!”

“They
are
savages,” said Corrie grimly. “They don't listen to any of us except Sebastian. Yesterday afternoon Juliet climbed onto the roof and almost fell off. Sebastian was out. The only way we could get Juliet down was to bribe her with marshmallows. She ate so many she threw up all over the kitchen table.”

“Sebastian is the oldest, right?” said Meredith. She was always trying to find out more about Corrie's family.

“Yes, Seb's fourteen and Roz is thirteen.”

Meredith's mother had asked Corrie about the rest of the family. So Meredith already knew that Corrie's mother had died three years ago, that her father taught Shakespearean literature at the university, and that a series of daily housekeepers had looked after them.

“What school do Sebastian and Roz go to?”

“Laburnum.”

“What's
that
?”

Corrie kept forgetting that Meredith was new to Vancouver. “It's the junior high school. I'll be going there next year—so will you!”

“Junior high,
yuck
! Let's not even
think
about it until we have to!”

Corrie grinned at her. Juliet and Orly raced back with a dead robin. “We can have a funeral!” said Juliet gleefully. Corrie stroked the soft, limp body. Its feathers were already faded. She helped Juliet wrap it in leaves.

“Who takes
care
of the twins?” Meredith asked. “Your dad? Your older sister? The housekeeper? Who washes and dresses them?”

BOOK: A Perfect Gentle Knight
12.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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