Thursday, March 14, 2013

Middle-Grade Review: Crispin: The Cross of Lead

My husband and son have been telling me to read Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi for many years. The book collected dust on my TBR shelf for a very long time, but I finally got around to reading it this week. Guess what? They were right! Crispin is an exciting, fast-paced novel set in a fascinating time period.

It is the Middle Ages in England in 1377. A thirteen-year old boy who has only ever been known as Asta’s son is grieving over the loss of his mother, the only family he’s ever known. He lives in a small, rural village where everyone is very poor and works for the Lord of the local area. Though he thinks he has nothing left to lose, Asta’s son is soon accused of a crime he didn’t commit, with a price put on his head.

Confused, alone, and frightened, he flees his tiny village and goes past its boundaries for the first time in his life. He has nothing but his mother’s cross of lead and a newly revealed name, Crispin. With no sense of anything outside his village, Crispin embarks on an arduous journey through the English countryside with his enemies close behind him, though Crispin has no idea why they are after him. He meets up with a strange, large man named Bear who makes Crispin his personal servant, though Crispin comes to see Bear as more of a benefactor over time, as they flee from Crispin’s pursuers together.

My husband and son were right – this is an exciting, fast-paced adventure story with plenty of heart...oh, and by the way, it won the Newberry Medal. It is filled with surprises (some of which I guessed at, but it is meant for middle-grade readers). Any kids who enjoy historical settings or adventure in any form will come to care for Crispin and root him on, as the pages fly by.

262 pages, Hyperion Books

This book takes place in England for my Where Are You Reading Challenge and counts toward my TBR Pile Reading Challenge.

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