LONGLIST REVIEW: The Secret Diary of John Drawbridge

There is so much to learn when you are becoming a medieval knight! When John Drawbridge goes to Widemoat Castle to learn these skills, he decides to keep a diary (an imaginary one!) to record his adventures. At present he is only a page, but one day hopes to become a squire before finally becoming a knight. Unfortunately, his annoying older brother, Hubert, is also at the castle; however, there are two other pages, Martin and Cadwallon, and there is Doug who ‘smelleth much of dog’ because he lives in the kennels.

This book is a fabulous mix of fun and fascinating facts! The diary format works perfectly, offering a light-hearted look at life in a medieval castle, but with historical accuracy, meaning that some of the details are fairly gruesome! The use of 'olde Englishe' adds to the humour and 'readability' of the book. 

Full of fantastic illustrations throughout, the story romps along at a pleasing pace. There are plenty of activities which children could do to engage with the text further. They could investigate some of the weaponry mentioned in the story and find out more about how they were used. They might like to find out more about coats of arms and perhaps design their own. They could even have a go at writing in olde Englishe themselves which could be a fun way of approaching some SPaG work and their understanding of verb forms! 

The first in a new series of books in a collaboration between Nosy Crow and the National Trust, 'The Secret Diary of John Drawbridge' is a must have for engaging children with life in the past! 

The Secret Diary of John Drawbridge,  a Medieval Knight in Training by  Philip Ardagh, illustrated by Jamie Littler

Nosy Crow  ISBN: 978-0857639011