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Fire, Bed, and Bone Paperback – September 12, 2006


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 830L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (September 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763629928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763629922
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Even readers with little knowledge of (or interest in) British feudal systems and peasant revolts may find themselves engrossed in this unique fictional tale set in 1381 and told from a hunting dog's point of view. The canine enjoys a comfortable existence with her family of serfs until her master and mistress are abruptly arrested for attending revolutionary rallies. The hound turns hero: she manages to find a home for the pair's children, finds the couple en route to prison and brings them their baby's hat so they know their children are safe. Through the dog's eyes, readers get an objective view of various acts of evildoing?including the execution of Rufus, his master, and the villainous miller's unlawful usurping of Rufus's property?before the canine and her clan do what they can to restore justice. Branford's subtle, poetic writing ("We slipped away under the trees to look for wood mice. But there was a bad smell under the trees, a smell of sickness and sorrow and secrets") evokes both the splendor of nature and the turbulence of the times. The author's remarkable understanding of animal behavior and human tendencies reverberate throughout this eloquent historic tale and may well have readers considering what truly goes on in the mind of a dog. Ages 10-14.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 UpAThe author's deep understanding of dogs is combined with an equally deep feeling for history to create a remarkable, touching story set in England during the fateful year of 1381. The narrator is an aging but still able farm dog, in her day the best hunter on four legs or two. Her humble owner, Rufus, and his wife Comfort are good to the dog and her pups, providing the "fire, bed, and bone" and the affection that keeps the animals from the wild forest life. The couple works assiduously at making their small holding of land prosper to build a better life for their children. However, times are cruel. Throughout the country unjust landlords press their tenants harshly. Charismatic reformers preach against the corruption, rebellious ideas spread, and eventually Rufus and Comfort are caught up in the Peasants' Revolt. When their involvement is discovered, life changes drastically for people and canines alike. The exciting plot, filled with hope, action, and tragedy, never hits a false note as related through the dog's sensibilities. Branford has produced an ingenious tour de force.AStarr E. Smith, Marymount University Library, Arlington, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 10, 1998
Format: Hardcover
What a brilliant book! This is set at the time of the 1381 Peasants' Revolt in England, and it shows the causes and events and results of that social upheaval in a way that is quite sympathetic to the peasants' side of the story without glossing over the mob violence that was involved. The book manages to be dense with factual information without being boring or preachy. However, the narrator is a dog -- a dog accustomed to a life of good care, with the comfort of the fire, a bed, and an occasional bone shared from the meager resources of its owners. And the dog tells us not only about the impact of social unrest on the people but also on their animals. The reading level is suitable for average fifth graders, but the issues are powerful and complex enough to interest older students of any reading level. This is a wonderful narrative of human events from an animal's perspective and should be placed along the classics of this genre.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Terri Rowan on October 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
In 1381, English folk rebelled against the oppressive system of serfdoms. Cruel lords and masters ruled villages of ordinary folk with no say over the heavy taxation and unjust laws.

For a simple hunting dog, human politics meant little to nothing. As the canine friend to Rufus, a simple man, the old dog is happy to keep her place by the fire, take her master hunting, and sleep in the house.

Everything changes shortly after the birth of her latest litter of puppies. Soldiers take Rufus and his wife, Comfort, away, leaving behind their three children. The dog ensures the children's safety and returns to find only one of her puppies has remained. Together, she and her young pup do their best to survive. She experiences freedom, captivity, and reunion, all in the names of love, loyalty, and survival.

Originally published in 1998, FIRE, BED & BONE is a dog's observation of the horrors life sometimes presents us. This telling of a significant event in history is done in a way that will engage kids, teach them, and show them a wonderful story. Using a dog's point of view (there are no talking animals in this book) to portray the way of men is a powerful tool, and in this case, it is well used.

This book should be a leading candidate for classroom use, as well as for simple reading enjoyment. The writing is easy to follow and sentimental without growing sappy. I definitely recommend this title.

Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer

10/26/2006
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Branford has crafted a powerful piece of historical fiction about fourteenth century England and has done so in a manner that honors the Young Adult audience's often ignored right to realistic, unromantic history. Her narrator, a wise, nameless hound is endearing but never cute. Through her eyes we witness the brutality and social upheaval of the late Middle Ages. This sage old dog, so unlike the traditional, overwrought animal narrator, provides a sense of detachment from events like the Wat Taylor rebellion that allows us to feel the peasant's righteousness as well as to cringe at their senseless mob violence. Above all, get ready to breath this one in. Fire, Bed & Bone is so splendidly redolent with the real, visceral scents of the age that you will inhale it as much as you read it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ruby le galle on April 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book if absoloutly fantabulous beyond belief. How buetiflly the words are used. descriptive of every detail. Extroudinary. I could read it a thousand times and never get bored. Buy it now! its great!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. K. Borenstadt on August 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I selected this for our book club (5th - 7th graders) because of the historical elements. Being that it's written from a dog's point of view (think Wishbone), I thought it would be lighter than some other historical fiction from this time period. But it was quite heavy with violence, including domestic violence.

I think it was fine for the 7th graders, but probably too much for the younger ones.
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