by Gerald Morris, published 2001
“As you have now learned, the things you achieve by your own mighty deeds have no value until they are thrown away. But the things worth keeping—those things are yours for the asking.”
Parsifal’s Page is the book that launched this website. When I finished reading it, I was so excited that I wanted to tell everyone I knew who might be a parent of a boy, or a 6th grade teacher, a Waldorf teacher or a lover of great children’s books.
I had read Goethe’s Parsifal as part of my teacher training, and struggled through it, barely getting the sense of the plot. The classic story about the quest for the Holy Grail has been told in many ways over many years. When I found Parsifal’s Page, I could not put it down. From beginning to end, the story is compelling, humorous, faithful to the original legend, and well written. However, most of all, the enormity of the theme which comes through, and the profound way that the ending is presented puts this book in the ‘must-read’ category.
If I were to sum up the value it transmits, it is the difference between compassion, as in sincere concern for another, versus indifference, as in idle curiosity. The heart-rending conclusion as Parsival asks the most important question is masterful.
However, values alone don’t always hold children’s interest. What makes this version of Parsifal worthy of the child’s time is that it makes the Knights of the Roundtable come alive, both as fallible people, and people with high ideals. What an adventure to lead children through.
It is also not often that we come across stories well written and accessible to boys. This is a perfect fit for the boys, especially 5th and 6th grade, who love the idea of a quest. Younger children will follow it, although some of the subtleties of the story might be lost on them. Girls will perhaps have a different response to the story, but there is no shortage of wonderful female models in the book, despite the main characters being masculine.