Customer Reviews: Crispin: The Cross of Lead (Crispin (Paperback))
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on March 6, 2003
A story set in the Middle Ages when feudalism is at it's height, the Black Death has already passed through the land, and God is a major part of everyday life. Crispin has lived his 13 years under Lord Furnival, and has known nothing but poverty, farming, and the name "Asta's Son." Crispin's life becomes complicated when his mother dies, and only then does Crispin begin to find out more about himself, his father, and the world around him. He also discovers he's a quick learner--a man nicknamed "Bear" teaches him how to juggle and play the recorder. Crispin also finds he's wanted for theft and murder, two things he did not commit. As time passes, Crispin learns the truth behind the accusations, and realizes his entire world will be more than just turned upside down.
Avi has woven an incredibly detailed tale. The reader will feel s/he is right there with Crispin because of all the "extras" Avi included--from food to clothing to worship styles to the layouts of the cities (muck and stench included). Readers will sympathize with Crispin, and will even find themselves reprimanding him when he sneaks out. The shifts in his character were a little disturbing (between curiosity and apathy), but overall Crispin is a full character.
This book is perfect for those who love Karen Cushman (The Midwife's Apprentice), or for those who aren't quite ready for Michael Cadnum (Book of the Lion). It also complements A Door in the Wall (Henry) and The Trumpeter of Krakow (Kelly).
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on October 16, 2005
I enjoyed reading Crispin because it was a fast paced, suspenseful adventure. In the adventure Crispin learns many things, and must overcome challenges in his journey. Some of the things that he learns on his journey are how to sing, how people dress, city life, what is beyond his town, and how to be an adventurer, and how to fight with weapons. Hiding and fighting soldiers, saving his friends, and learning his past are some of the challenges he must overcome.

The story starts out with Crispin living in a town named Stromford. He lives with his mom, and his dad supposedly died before he was born. Eventually, his mom dies, and he runs away from Stromford wanting to lead a new life. Before he left on his journey his priest gave him a necklace from his mother with writing on it (Crispin couldn't read). John Aycliffe (master in Stromford) tries to track down Crispin with his army of soldiers. In Crispin's journey he makes a friend/companion named Bear. Together Bear and Crispin travel, and try to live being adventurers. Nobody will tell Crispin what his cross sais, and in the end he finds out that he is someone special, and he had figured his past.

I would recommend this book to someone who loves reading about adventures. It has a wonderful plot, and has many good turns. I enjoyed this book because Crispin was a very believable character, who changed, having motivation behind his change. The motivation behind his change made the change very believable. I will leave the ending for you to read, and figure out what is Crispins past and future? BEWARE, once you start this book you won't want to put it down!!!
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on October 5, 2007
A thirteen-year-old boy named Crispin was always an outcast and so was his mother. He knew nothing about his father and didn't even know his own name until after his mother's death. The story takes place in England, after his mother dies Crispin runs a way for a little while but when but Crispin goes back to the only person who will even talk to him, Father Quinel. Father Quinel explained to him that he was proclaimed a wolf's head and that he should run away. The night before Crispin ran away he was suppose to meet Father Quinel so he could tell him more about his family and why he was being proclaimed a wolf's head. Before Crispin had a chance to be told all these hidden things that were always kept from him, Father Quinel was murdered. The only thing Cripsin could do was run. All he had though was the cross of lead which his mother wrote on but he can't read, but this cross contains a lot of information and nobody will tell him what it says. On Crispin's adventure he meets a man named Bear, who helps him learn to enjoy life and how to survive. Will John Aycliffe catch Crispin? Will Crispin put Bear's life in danger? What does the cross have written on it?
This John Newberry medal book was very well written. This book is very captivating and I had a hard time putting it down. The ending is very surprising and I think Avi is really good at twisting the story around so that you think you know what's going to happen in the end, but then you don't. I've read a lot of Avi's books and I must say that this is my favorite. I recommend this book to everyone.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 29, 2015
This is a thrilling historical adventure tale and much more engaging than I could possibly have expected.

With its medieval setting and lost orphan premise I expected the emphasis to be on the historical angle, probably with a bit more life-of-a-peasant than I really wanted. Well, I'm a dope. What we actually got felt very much like a slightly younger reader version of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Kidnapped". There is intrigue, treachery, loyalty, mystery and action galore, but along the way we grow to like and admire Crispin and we share in his conflict and his growth as he learns to survive on the open road. While Crispin is untutored, he is alert and shrewd and as a result we get a strong and relatable hero.

The temptation for authors of this sort of historical fiction, I suspect, is to get a bit too authentic - tossing in odd vocabulary and unusual syntax and phrasing in order to medievalize the story. Avi avoids this, and while there is certainly color and background to the tale, and a fair degree of historical context, the writing is crisp, direct and to the point. This helps make the adventure both accessible and ripping for a younger reader. I was very happy with this as an adventure yarn that I suspect would have wide appeal.
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on June 1, 2007
I have never read a book by Avi before. That will change. He has an extremely fluid style of writing that is easy to digest. His words are clearly chosen carefuly, as none are wasted on the page. There isn't any over-the-top hyperbole, or a string of cumbersome adjectives to slow the story down. Yet the author still paints a very vivid picture, so the reader can watch the story through the eyes of a Wolf's Head -- that's where the story gets exciting! Once you pick it up, I dare you to put the book down. It won't be easy.

CRISPIN: CROSS OF LEAD is set in a very dark time in European history. The hero is framed for something he didn't do, and though it is fairly clear as to the "why" early on, you still are compelled to see what happens to Crispin in the end. Lovers of Tolkien-esque tales of a romantic Medieval setting will truly enjoy this crossover into historical fiction. The characters are interesting, the adventure is dangerous, and the setting feels accurate. This is a great book to introduce young people to history in a way that wouldn't bore them to tears. If you have lovers of Potter in your house and wonder how to get them interested in something more reality-based, this is it. They won't be disappointed.
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on April 3, 2006
Crispin The Cross of Lead is about a boy whose mother died and apparently his father also died. He has no family and is left with no home. Soon he is declared a "Wolf's Head,"(Anyone can kill him if they find him.) for a crime he did not commit. Because of that he is forced to run away to have a chance of survival. On his way he runs into someone who feeds him, protects him, and pays him for the work that he does.It is his new master. He realizes that his master is going into a trap, so goes and tries to saves him and his friends. His master got caught, now it's up to Crispin to save him. Will it be enough to save his master?

On a scale to 1 to 5 I rate this a 5, because it's surprising, suspenseful, and interesting. Surprising because it reveals stuff i'd never think would happen. Suspenseful because there are parts when it's getting really good but it's the end of the chapter and I have to stop reading but can't because it is really good. Intresting because there is never parts where it's boring, it always holds my attention.
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on May 13, 2015
Crispin: The Cross of Lead is about a 13-year old boy named Crispin, running away from his village in medieval England. Why? Because the steward of the village accused him of crimes he did not commit. Now he is declared a "wolf's head", which means he can be killed by anyone, anytime. He meets a juggler named Bear, and they uncover Crispin's backstory together.
Now onto the review. Crispin: The Cross of Lead had potential. Wasted potential. At least for me, the book was slow overall and rushed at the end. So many major "plot points" happened at the end. Now, back to English class. Every story must have an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution, right? Well, this story completely skipped rising action. At least half the book was exposition, then all of a sudden it jumped to climax. There was falling action, and the resolution was only the last page or so. This is Avi's 50th book. Maybe he's tired out. For me, a sixth grader, this book might be slow, tedious, and just plain annoying. Perhaps an older, more mature reader might enjoy Crispin: The Cross of Lead more than I did.
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on May 24, 2006
I pre-read this for my 5th grader. It is truly a delightful book. It really touches on the historical life back in the 1300's.
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on October 1, 2004
My review

When my reading teacher started to read the book ''Crispin the Cross of Lead Reviews'' I wasn't very interested in listening. After five minutes of listening, I started to get inquisitive to the book. Predictive it was not. There was great suspense as my teacher enthusiastically read to us. I felt like I was a character in the book. Avi just captured me and brought me into the book as I was listening. I respected the book a lot and I hope that anyone who reads this book will enjoy it as much as I did.
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on May 19, 2016
I'm honestly perplexed as to if I want to continue this series. On the one hand, it does a great job of introducing young readers to feudal England. A lot of the minutia of life are so long-gone as to be outright foreign, but Avi does a pretty good job of making the readers understand things, without using the "as you know, this this this" style of narration. Even when Crispin is told he is a Wolf's Head, and he declares that means he can be killed on sight, it doesn't feel like the author is forcing the explanation. It feels quite reasonable to shout that you could be killed.

I think this is a particularly good choice of book for the current political and economic climate in the United States, where so much of a person's life is determined by the opportunities available only since their birth, and not their own efforts.

But the plot didn't interest me enough to really continue. It'd obvious from the beginning of the book that Crispin is of noble birth, and also obvious that the book can't have any good resolution as regards the boy's birth. While the plot moves along briskly, continually educating its readers in a subtle manner, you're not left with enough investment in the characters to want to continue.

I just now read the Wikipedia summary of the other two books and am confident in my decision to stop reading the Crispin books with this one. It was okay, but nothing to invest in.
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