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Genre-jumping author Avi clocks in here with his 50th book, Crispin: The Cross of Lead, an action-packed historical narrative that follows the frantic flight of a 13-year-old peasant boy across 14th-century England.
After being declared a "wolf's head" by his manor's corrupt steward for a crime he didn't commit (meaning that anyone can kill him like a common animal--and collect a reward), this timid boy has to flee a tiny village that's the only world he's ever known. But before our protagonist escapes, Avi makes sure that we're thoroughly briefed on the injustices of feudalism--the countless taxes cottars must pay, the constant violence, the inability of a flawed church to protect its parishioners, etc. Avi then folds in the book's central mystery just as the boy is leaving: "Asta's son," as he's always been known, learns from the village priest that his Christian name is Crispin, and that his parents' origins--and fates--might be more perplexing than he ever imagined.
Providing plenty of period detail (appropriately gratuitous for the age group) and plenty of chase-scene suspense, Avi tells a good story, develops a couple of fairly compelling characters, and even manages to teach a little history lesson. (Fortunately, kids won't realize that they're learning about England's peasant revolt of 1381 until it's far too late.) (Ages 10 to 14) --Paul Hughes
Set in 14th-century England, Avi's (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle) 50th book begins with a funeral, that of a village outcast whose past is shrouded in mystery and whose adolescent son is known only as "Asta's son." Mired in grief for his mother, the boy learns his given name, Crispin, from the village priest, although his presumably dead father's identity remains obscure. The words etched on his mother's treasured lead cross may provide some clue, but the priest is murdered before he can tell the illiterate lad what they say. Worse, Crispin is fingered for the murder by the manor steward, who declares him a "wolf's head" wanted dead or alive, preferably dead. Crispin flees, and falls in with a traveling juggler. "I have no name," Crispin tells Bear, whose rough manners and appearance mask a tender heart. "No home, no kin, no place in this world." How the boy learns his true identity (he's the bastard son of the lord of the manor) and finds his place in the world makes for a rattling fine yarn. Avi's plot is engineered for maximum thrills, with twists, turns and treachery aplenty, but it's the compellingly drawn relationship between Crispin and Bear that provides the heart of this story. A page turner to delight Avi's fans, it will leave readers hoping for a sequel. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Read this with my 8th graders last year. The students thoroughly enjoyed the story.Published 19 hours ago by Palma M. Hudson
The book was damaged on the front and back cover. Torn. When I bought it it stated it was a new book.Published 14 days ago by Devangi Stratman
My daughter was assigned this book for summer reading. I read it along with her really enjoyed the story. There is a lot of intrigue and wonderful characters. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Neale X. Trangucci
This is a thrilling historical adventure tale and much more engaging than I could possibly have expected. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Pop Bop
This book was a required summer reading for my child. He had to do a book report on it and have it for the first day of school. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Addict
I read this with my 12-year-old son. This book was one of his summer reading books. He had to write a book review on the story so I made sure I had read the book as well.Published 2 months ago by Alex Williams
A wonderful story told by a great storyteller! Avi entrenches his readers into the story with his development of intriguing characters and the use of rich vocabulary. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Patrick Wollam
There were lots of twists and turns Avi did an awesome job! I loved it! He really showed what true friendship means!Published 3 months ago by Cana Davidson