Cover image for The mightiest heart
The mightiest heart
Cullen, Lynn.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, [1998]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Based on a Welsh legend about Prince Llywelyn and his loyal dog Gelert, who is wrongly banished when the prince believes that the dog has attacked his son.
Reading Level:
AD 650 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.0 0.5 28020.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.7 2 Quiz: 19062 Guided reading level: P.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.C894 MI 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PZ8.1.C894 MI 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PZ8.1.C894 MI 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.C894 MI 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Who can resist a story about a dog who so loved his master that he gave up his life? This exquisitely illustrated story, based on the legend of Llywelyn, a thirteenth-century Welsh prince, and his loyal hound, Gelert, will keep young readers and listeners spellbound. Laurel Long joins the ranks of today's premier illustrators in her debut, adding incredible power to Lynn Cullen's spare but emotionally charged text. Each picture is like a precious treasure, revealing painstaking attention to detail, breathtaking color, and characters whose mutual love transcends the pages of this marvelous book. The Mightiest Heart is sure to be one of the best gifts to give young readers this fall.

Author Notes

Lynn Cullen is the author of numerous children's books and young adult novels including The Backyard Ghost, The Mightiest Heart, and I Am Rembrandt's Daughter, which was an ALA Best Book of 2008. The Creation of Eve is her first work for adults.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-5. Young Prince Llywelyn lives an idyllic life, racing across the Welsh meadows and fields accompanied by his faithful hound, Gelert. When Llywelyn finally marries and has a son, the haughty princess banishes Gelert from the infant's nursery. Llywelyn finds the dog there with blood on his jaws and assumes that he has attacked baby Dafydd. As he raises his sword to strike Gelert, the baby cries out from under the cradle, and Llywelyn discovers that Gelert has killed a wolf to protect the child. Gelert flees, to return only once to save Llywelyn from an attacking wolf. Years later, one of Gelert's pups becomes Dafydd's hound, and Llywelyn ponders what he has lost, telling his son that "the mightiest heart can come in the humblest vessel." The appended author's note offers some historical background about Prince Llywelyn of Wales; the flap copy refers to the story as a "Welsh legend set in the thirteenth century." The story unfolds with dignity in the text and with drama and beauty in the unusually fine illustrations. Reflecting the tone and conventions of Renaissance art, Long's detailed oil paintings use elements of period landscape, architecture, and portraiture to create formidable narrative paintings, resplendent with rich colors and patterns from nature. Rather than simply clothing modern sensibilities in period garments, the illustrations open windows to another world. An impressive debut for the illustrator and a memorable picture book for older children. --Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Welsh legend has it that as a boy, 12th-century Prince Llywelyn was blessed with a faithful dog named Gelert, and this strange and sentimental retelling marks novelist Cullen's (Stink Bomb; The Backyard Ghost) picture book debut. Llywelyn and his canine companion are inseparable until he marries a cold princess and begins to ignore his true-hearted dog. One day, the couple's newborn son is missing and Llywelyn, discovering Gelert near the crib with a bloody mouth, raises his sword to the animal, only to find the infant safe and a dead wolf outside. Gelert then disappears, and Llywelyn is doomed to a life of regret. Later the prince is redeemed when the heroic beast reappears to him in two mysterious ways. Though somewhat stilted language dots the prose ("With an anguished roar, Llywelyn attacked Gelert"), the period setting and compelling plot will carry readers along. In a remarkable debut, Long crafts oil paintings that resemble medieval tapestries: steeped in a wide array of greens, sprinkled with blood reds and burgundies and teeming with flower and fauna. Her close-up renderings of expressive faces against deep landscapes of rolling hills and turbulent skies give the tale an epic quality. A handsome presentation of a fairy tale with an unusual moral: "The mightiest heart can come in the humblest vessel." Ages 4-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-5-Dog lovers and those who enjoy medieval tales will appreciate this retelling of a Welsh legend. Prince Llywelyn grew up with his faithful wolfhound at his side through every adventure. When the prince marries, his wife is not pleased with Gelert and complains that "He makes my gown stink of hound." The dog is banished first from the bedroom and then from the nursery when a child is born. One day when Llywelyn finds an empty cradle and a trail of blood, he falsely accuses Gelert of murder and almost kills the animal. The dog has kept the baby safe from a wolf, but because of Llywelyn's lack of trust, he runs away for good. He reappears long enough to give up his life to save Llywelyn from another wolf, and at story's end, the prince's son finds a puppy in the forest that looks suspiciously like Gelert. Thus, the boy-and-his-dog cycle continues. The rich, deep colors of the oil paintings complement the story's 13th-century setting and provide many details to pore over. They are similar in style and design to those in Paul Zelinsky's Rapunzel (Dutton, 1997). The influence of Jan van Eyck can be seen as well, especially in the bridal portrait. The author's note addresses the question of truth in Welsh legends.-Cheri Estes, Detroit Country Day School Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.