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I read that children's book somewhere between 2004 and 2011(ish), in French, though I wouldn't know whether it was a translation or not. I don't know for sure when it would have been published, perhaps in the 90s-2000s. If memory serves, the cover was blue-ish, with a drawing of a smiling young girl in knight armor, riding a horse, perhaps with a couple additional characters. The book had some illustrations, at least a drawing of green peas in their pods, and the main character in armor, holding a spear. I wouldn't be surprised if it had been published/translated by one of the main French children's magazines, like J'aime lire.

I'm about 90% sure the main character is a girl, about 10 years old, let's call her Sasha. Sasha is transported back in time, I think when reading a book about knights in her bedroom and wishing she could see the era, but that may be influenced by memories of Magic Tree House (which it definitely isn't). Sasha ends up in medieval Western Europe, though I don't think it was an Arthurian setting.

Throughout the story, Sasha meets the son of someone important (nobility?), but whom I also seem to remember being a squire. The boy, let's call him Bob, is about her age, perhaps a bit younger. His uncle travels a lot, and at some point he's showing Sasha the "newest" vegetables his uncle brought from America. The French quote went like this:

– Ce sont des légumes nouveaux, dit fièrement Bob. Mon oncle les a ramenés d'Amérique.
Sasha retient un rire. Il y a bien longtemps qu'elle connait les petits pois et les haricots verts !

Which I'd translate to:

"These are new species of vegetables," Bob says proudly. "My uncle brought them back from America."
Sasha holds off a laugh. She has known green peas and beans for a while now!

... and something about not wanting to hurt Bob's feelings, as he seems very proud to be able to showcase these veggies.

Bob shows her around, and she eventually takes part in a joust, which I guess she wins.

I have no memory how, but I remember she makes it back to her own time.


I've tried Googling, in both French and English:

  • livre jeunesse voyage temps chevaliers "légumes nouveaux" (children's book time travel knights "new vegetables"), along with several variations of the quote ("légumes nouveaux * oncle"), and browsing exclusively on Google Books
  • livre jeunesse voyage temps fille chevalier écuyer joute (children's book time travel girl knight squire joust)
  • as well as filtering the Google Images results for variations of these keywords by the color blue, again without success.
1
  • In Half Magic by Edward Eager a girl goes back to Medieval times and takes part in a joust, but that's about the only thing that matches. – Alex Jul 3 '20 at 2:28
5

Émilie et le crayon magique, a children's book by Henriette Bichonnier (1979). It would translate into Émilie and the magic pencil, but as far as I can see there was no English translation.

Basically the story is about an 8-years-old girl named Émilie, who is fond of medieval history. While walking home one day, she encounters a talking pencil which tells her everything one draws with it becomes alive. She picks it up, comes home, starts writing on her "write the rest of the story we started to read in class" assignment, and draws medieval stuff with the pencil.

Eventually she goes into the castle she drew and meets Guillaume, the son of the fictional knight protagonist of her assignment. He shows her the new vegetables, which his uncle brought back from the crusades (not America, my bad). Things happen, and she has to defend the honor of the knight in a joust. She wins by using the pencil to create a hollow spear delivering sleeping gas into her opponent's face.

Émilie want to go back to her own world but she lost the pencil. The knight she defeated in the joust attacks the castle to avenge his honor; during the attack, she finds the pencil again and uses it to draw an army of bowmen and eventually erase the castle, which makes her go back to her bedroom.

The book had multiple covers over the years, this is the one I was remembering (so apart from the "multiple other characters", I was pretty on point):

smiling young girl in armor, riding a horse while holding a spear-sized pencil


No Googling for this one... I found it while browsing an Excel list of books I have in a box in my mother's cellar (while looking for something else entirely).

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