Don Quixote. Still Worth the Challenge 400 Years Later.

The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quijote of La Mancha by Miguel De Cervantes is a story that clocks in at about 1000 pages, in very small print, on very thin paper. Deciding to start this epic really is a commitment, but worth the effort.

Don Quixote reading
Adam Cuerden, Wikimedia Commons

The story is about an old retired man who spends his elder years reading from his library of books and becomes fixated on the tales of chivalry. Having been so enamored with these characters he becomes confused, and starts to believe that he himself is a knight and as any respectable knight is aware, you must go on adventures to perform your knightly duties. He fights duels, recruits a loyal squire, and even has a damsel that must be saved from nothing really.

This book is incredibly enjoyable and educational to even people who refuse to read fiction. It is set in medieval Spain, so the politics of the characters, the events related from the different towns visited are all inspired, if not directly pulled, from actual history. So while you are bogged down for the next few months in the minute details of the structural soundness of windmills, keep in mind there are also some fantastic juvenile versions of the work that can serve as an appetizer to the story.

My first pick for accessible Don Quixote is Marcia William’s lovely illustrated work Miguel De Cervantes's Don Quixote. It’s an extremely abridged telling of the more fun stories that are in the book. It is an especially fun to read as it is in comic strip form. Marcia Williams has a few other books that retell the classics for children in comic strip form; I am also a big fan of her version of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Eric Kimmel’s Don Quixote and the Windmills is a more traditional picture book. It is the story of Don Quixote's epic battle with windmills. It really works children's imaginations; I mean when was the last time they saw a windmill?