Sometime back in 2007 I was at Mabel’s Fables bookstore in Toronto browsing for an interesting book. There was only one other customer in the store who also appeared to be browsing and the owner of the shop, who approached me to ask if I needed help choosing something to read. She indicated the stack of Kit Pearson novels and asked if I had ever read any of them. Of course, I had read all of them multiple times as a child and loved every single one of them so I gushed a little bit about how much I loved them and about how my husband had just bought me the only one I hadn’t read as a child and that I always recommended them to kids who asked me what they should read next. To all this gushing the store owner replied “Well in that case I’d like you to meet someone…” Of course the other shopper in the store was actually Kit Pearson!!! She happened to be in town signing copies of her newest work A Perfect Gentle Knight and she had just heard me gush all about her writing. Teehee. I’m sure I turned a lovely shade of red and babbled incoherently. There is just something about meeting an author whose books fed your childhood imagination that is so exciting.
Kit Pearson’s novels are absolutely timeless and A Perfect Gentle Knight is no exception. Set in the late 1950s, it is the story of Corrie and her family as they struggle to achieve some sense of normalcy after the death of their mother in a car accident. Corrie and her siblings have immersed themselves in a game of knights and King Arthur’s Round Table but at 14, Corrie’s older brother Sebastian should be losing interest in childish games and moving on to pursue new interests in high school. Instead he seems to be sinking deeper and deeper into the game. In this work Pearson has examined mental illness in an extremely effective and sensitive manner that is accessible to younger readers without being overwhelming or scary. In a world where more and more people, especially young people, seem to be grappling with mental illness I think that a story like this one is an important tool for opening up discussions about the topic and for reassurance that there is nothing to be ashamed of in mental illness.
Even though this work, as well as most of Pearson’s other works, are set in the past, the story does not seem dated at all. Despite the numerous references to events and phenomenons from the ’50s, there is no sense that the story is “old” at all. I loaned my copy to a 12-year-old girl at the school where I work and she absolutely adored it. She is now in the process of seeking out and reading all of Pearson’s other work. Apparently I’ve become a Kit Pearson “pusher”…look out…I’ll convert you all!