Pia, a peasant girl of twelve or thirteen, and Enzio, her little brother, happen to witness a thief on horseback fleeing from the King's Men. The thief tosses a pouch onto the ground near them and continues on his way. The children are delighted with their find. Then a soldier, returning unsuccessful from the chase, tells them that, should they happen to find anything, they should give it to the old wise woman who lives in their village. But they can't bring themselves to do it immediately. First, of course, they have to see what's inside.
The discovery of the pouch sparks a chain of events that reaches all the way across the kingdom to King Guido, who is disturbed by the theft even as he yearns for more comfortable clothing and perhaps even a nap, and Queen Gabriella, who feels that there should be more to life than the endless circle of chores and audiences that ruling the kingdom entails, although she doesn't quite know what that might be. The cast of characters also includes two princes, a princess, a hermit, an old wise woman, and a storyteller who spins wondrous tales that enable his listeners to envision unexpected possibilities.
I thoroughly enjoyed this fairytale-like story and the lovely "illuminations" by David Diaz. Told with humor and compassion, this story makes a wonderful read-aloud, with memorable characters that are a delightful combination of the typical and the unexpected.
The Castle Corona by Sharon Creech; illustrated by David Diaz (Joanna Cotler Books, 2007)
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