The Vine: March 2, 2012
I'm hoping crowd-sourcing an answer on this might get better results than my fruitless Googling? I'm after a kids' or YA book that I would have read back in the early '80s, most likely. The protagonist is an American boy, and may be an orphan or have been sent to live with an uncle or guardian, but I'm not 100% certain on that. In the scene that I most clearly remember he is reading "The Wind in the Willows" and comes across the word "draught." He doesn't understand the word until he plays with it in his mind for a bit and eventually realizes it's the same as the American-spelled "draft" and that the same word can be used both in the sense of a draughty window and to drink a draught of something and then ALL OF A SUDDEN he loves reading, which he did not love prior to that breakthrough.
I'm hunting for it so I can give that passage to my students in the vague hope of inspiring them to figure out what unfamiliar words in their texts mean instead of just saying "that's hard!" and quitting. If any Nation readers can point me to the book I'd be thrilled.
The Word "Draught" Just Lost All Meaning
I'm trying to remember a YA fantasy series, and while I remember many details, none are particularly helpful when searching The Google. I would have read it in the late '80s/early '90s.
A pampered, self-involved prince (whose name begins with K) has to go on a quest with his half-brother (whose name begins with F). K is part god or something — he has sparkly eyes. F (same dad, different mom, eyes don't sparkle) is a Captain of the Guard sort and spends most of the quest taking care of K: he's Sam to K's Frodo.
The first book starts out with F's troop escorting K's litter (?) across some sort of sacred space. They're all supposed to be really quiet, but K thinks their caution is hilarious and laughs out loud. Because K is part god he knows he's protected from whatever might happen, but F gets really mad that K isn't taking the danger to everyone else seriously, thus establishing K's self-involved bona fides before the quest even starts.
Over the course of the quest (something to do with keys or gates?), K grows up. A lot. Also:
* Fairly early on, K encounters a priestess in a pitch-black subterranean cave. I think she scratches him, badly.
* Later in the series, K loses the use of his hand for some quest-related reason.
In the last book, they've made it back to their home country. K is pretending to be blind so he can keep his sparkly eyes covered (they're traveling incognito), and they join a group of traveling players. When the troupe patriarch falls ill in the middle of the pageant, K steps in to play the part of his godly ancestor. Everyone sees his sparkly eyes and realizes that he's part of the royal race, and he and F leave the group shortly after.
At the end, I'm pretty sure K dies, but in a happy way? There was something about him climbing a giant staircase and seeing his parents and his great uncle and some other people who were already dead on the various steps.
Ring any bells?
Tags: Ask The Readers popcult