From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3–Ashby introduces a seventh-century man often called the first English poet. Caedmon was a cowherd who, ironically, detested poetry. He lived in an oral society and everyone else seemed capable of storytelling but him. When a tongue-tied Caedmon left a feast early and went to sleep with his cows, he dreamed of a man who commanded him to sing about what he knew. He opened his mouth and the words of his best-known poem, Caedmons Hymn, came out. When he awoke, he told his friend, who deemed it a miracle. He gave up his cows to live as a monk and to create songs. The text is clear and direct; mercifully, Ashby makes no attempt to re-create the Old English spoken in Caedmons time (other than in a biographical note at the end). She creates a sympathetic protagonist, a man who is not ambitious but who, when the time is right, answers his calling. A modern audience might find this calling unusual, but they will certainly relate to the awkwardness and inadequacy he feels, and the satisfaction he takes from what is comfortable and familiar to him. Slavins acrylic illustrations complement the story, sometimes re-creating Caedmons world, sometimes re-creating the look of an ancient manuscript. This book will appeal to children who like historical fiction, but it will be too difficult for new readers to tackle on their own.–Kara Schaff Dean, Needham Public Library, MA
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About the Author
Ruth Ashby a writer, editor and English teacher has written a number of books for children. She lives in New York, USA.