Jonathan Ferry teaches kids the fundamentals of chess by giving personalities to the pieces. Prunella, a humble little pawn, wishes she was a queen. Norry, a knight, explains how important pawns can be in defending the other characters on the chess board. Nyella, the benevolent queen, demonstrates this principal by sacrificing herself for the good of the army.
The structure of this book enhances the reader’s understanding. Each lefthand page contains narration. Each righthand page explains a principal of the game that went into that narration. The reader learns each character’s capabilities and limitations, as well as what makes a “happy” chess piece.
Caroline Zina’s illustrations are highly appealing, with a black-and-white battlefield and a rolling green chessboard surrounding it. The chess pieces are beautiful drawn and decorated.
The only weaknesses in this book are grammatical. “Prunella’s heart sunk,” for example, or the baffling phrase “he was clearly not intimidated by the little pawn like she was by him.” Otherwise, Across the Battlefield is a pleasant introduction to one of the world’s most popular and enduring games.