Saturday, May 12, 2007

Put Down the Henty and Back Away Slowly

Rich Leonardi has noticed how good Barbara Willard's juvenile historical fiction is. Well, as they say, if you liked those, you'll love the whole Clarion Books series, where Willard's most popular titles started out.

Clarion Books were published by Doubleday in the late 1950's and early '60's as "a new fiction series by outstanding authors, featuring exciting events in Catholic world history, told in fast-paced adventure stories bringing the past to life, designed to appeal to boys and girls of today."

I've gotten hold of many of these titles, and Offspring #1 gives them unreservedly two thumbs up. They're about late elementary to middle school level and informative without being obtrusively educational. And they're generally less expensive used, even adding shipping costs, than the softcover reprints.

Finding the Clarion titles is made trickier by Houghton Mifflin's use of the "Clarion" name for their line of children's books, making "Clarion" unusable as a search term for the used book finding engines. Here's what I've been able to find over the years; I'd be grateful for any additions to my list from readers. Reprints are indicated; descriptions are (mostly) by Doubleday.

Boucher, Alan. The King's Men: A Story of St. Olaf of Norway
An Icelandic boy joins King Olaf in his struggle to unite Norway and establish a Christian kingdom.

Brady, Charles. The King's Thane
Beorn earns his thaneship by serving under the heroic hunter Beowulf in Northumbria.

Brady, Charles. Sword of Clontarf
A boy plays a man's role in the battle to preserve Christianity in Ireland.

De Leeuw, Adele and Cateau. Where Valor Lies
A young Parisian joins the crusade of King Louis IX and fights to free Jerusalem from the Saracens.

Garnett, Henry. A Trumpet Sounds
Political and religious strife during the reign of Elizabeth I involves a young English boy in a dangerous mission.

Garnett, Henry. The Blood Red Crescent (reprinted by Lepanto Press)
A young Venetian helps repel the Turkish invaders at Lepanto in 1571.

Hubbard, Margaret Ann. The Blue Gonfalon (reprinted by Lepanto Press)
A French peasant's son earns knighthood during the First Crusade in 1099.

Lomask, Milton Cross Among the Tomahawks
Two Huron Indian boys become Christians under the influence of Jesuit missionaries in early Canada.

Lomask, Milton. Ship's Boy With Magellan
A Spanish boy joins Magellan's crew on his famous circumnavigation voyage.

Pauli, Hertha. The Two Trumpeters of Vienna
Four young friends each play a part in the liberation of Vienna from the Turks in 1683.

Polland, Madeleine. Chuiraquimba and the Black Robes
An Indian girl and her brother from the jungles of Paraguay are aided by Jesuit missionaries.

Polland, Madeleine. City of the Golden House
St. Peter and the early Christians.

Polland, Madeleine. Fingal's Quest
Adventures of a young monastic student enslaved in sixth century Gaul.

Willard, Barbara. If All the Swords in England (reprinted by Bethlehem Books)
Twin brothers in the service of King Henry II and Thomas Becket witness the martyrdom in Canterbury Cathedral.

Willard, Barbara. Son of Charlemagne (reprinted by Bethlehem Books)
The majesty and vigor of Charlemagne's reign unfold in the story of his favorite son.


Blogger Love2Learn Mom said...

I've had some success searching for Clarion Catholic on eBay for these books.

Thanks for the post!

2:17 AM  
Blogger The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

I generally use, but it runs you into the search term problem. Find any titles from the series that I don't have listed yet? I'd love to know that I have a complete listing.

5:46 AM  
Blogger ElaineT said...

Madeleine Polland wrote quite a few that weren't part of the series, but could have been, such as _Flame over Tara_ about St. Patrick's conversion of Ireland.

And most certainly not in the Clarion series (written & published in the 20s), but well worth reading IMO, Agnes Danforth Hewes' _A Boy of the Lost Crusade_, which I was delighted to find in our Catholic school and talked it u p to the librarian, who was going to read it but a 7th grade boy checked it before she could and he came back raving (positively) about it. Then we pulled our kid out of organized school and I never heard any more about *that*.

Anyway, it's set mostly in the Holy Land, with the Boy being someone who started off on the Children's Crusade, gets sick, so is left behind which means he survives. Makes it to the Holy Land and is more or less adopted by a Jewish shepherd and his good friend a Moslem, until he grows enough to be a real Crusader warrior. Good stuff including strong frienship, divided loyalties, adventure, battles, hair-breadth escapes...

The author lived in that part of the world in the 1920s and it shows. The shepherding sure brought life to the Biblical analogies, too.

I followed a link here from Rich Leonardi's blog, BTW.

9:16 PM  
Blogger The Opinionated Homeschooler said...


Thanks for the tip on that one. I'll have to see if I can hunt it down. Bookfinder seems to have a few copies for under $5.

I like Polland's other books, too. And the prolific Milton Lomask wrote a few for the Clarion series, as well as for the better-known Vision Books series. I do wish there had been more books by August Derleth, who wrote a few saints' lives for Vision, but is probably better known for having taken up the mantle of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos.

7:48 AM  
Blogger Hillside Education said...

I know it's probably silly to make a comment on two-year old blog post, but . . . more of these Clarion titles are in print now. Where Valor Lies is reprinted by Lepanto and Sophia has just released A Trumpet Sounds under a new name: Crucifixes and Crossbows. Sword of Clontarf, The King's Thane, and City of the Golden House are published by Hillside Education (my company), in fact, I think City GH was out at the time of this post. Anyhow, I am committed to trying to reprint as many as I can, depending on our funding. We are working on Ship's Boy with Magellan and Chuiraquimba and the Black Robes for release in 2010.

9:30 AM  

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