Across the Battlefield by Jonathan Ferry, illustrated by Caroline Zina features a protagonist, Prunella the pawn, and her perilous journey to promotion. This book is well suited for children ranging ages 6 to 10, with rich but not overwhelming language and useful, engaging information on the game of chess. Ferry’s gentle themes combined with Zina’s detailed, magical style make for a charming narrative full of determination, friendship, and honour.
The character Prunella goes through an emotional journey many budding chess players can relate to, trying to find their strengths just as their pieces do, and rising from a feeling of insignificance to one of growing confidence. As Prunella makes her way across the board, she experiences exasperation at her position and fear of disappointing, but as her importance in the game grows, she learns the value of friendship and courage, so that by the time she reaches the end, she knows how to act with the quiet dignity of a queen. However, she also comes to realize that she need not be a queen to have importance. Even as a pawn, her contributions are invaluable... As she has realized, every chess piece has its own virtues, just like every chess player.
Across the Battlefield is a truly unique book for many reasons, but the fact that it tackles chess both as a moral journey and a subject of study is distinctive. With practical details on the application of technique in relation to the plot on each page, this story has all the information needed for someone ready to begin their own journey into chess. In Across the Battlefield, Ferry and Zina have created a whimsical, sparkling story that conveys the beauty of chess in all respects.