Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Review: Crispin: the cross of lead


Crispin: the cross of lead by Avi


Summary: Set in 14th-century England, this is the story of a 13 year-old peasant boy. After his mother dies, the boy known only as "Asta's son" is declared a "wolf's head" by his manor's evil steward (which means that anyone who sees him can kill him and collect a reward) for a crime he didn't commit. The village priest is prepared to help him escape, and lets him know that his name is actually Crispin and that there are things he needs to know about his mother and unknown father. But before Crispin can visit the priest again, he's killed and Crispin must flee for his life. He meets a huge juggler/mummer named Bear on the road and starts to learn that there's more to life than being a serf. Bear and Crispin's adventure continues as they enter the town of Great Wexly, where trouble for both of them ensues and the truth about Crispin's parentage comes to light.

Why'd I pick it up? For the Newbery Challenge. Although I also felt I should read some of the prolific and well-respected Avi (can't recall if I've read any of his others). This is his 50th book!

Overall: I think this would be a great book for teaching kids about the feudalism during the Middle Ages. It's good to have a perspective beyond the usual knights and castles stories for this age group. Avi really sets the scene well - he paints a clear picture of the tiny villages and also of the large market town. I was impressed with the way he really describes what life was like for peasants at the time. Crispin calls it a "living death" - nothing but work, poverty, misery, and the church telling them that if they follow the rules they'll get their reward in Heaven.

It was actually quite jarring to read so much about the Church in a kids' book, actually. My first thoughts were that I really couldn't see myself recommending it to many kids in our very multicultural city, but I think there's enough adventure, suspense, and violence in it that I can pull it off. :) And kids often need period-specific fiction for school, so now I have one for boys.

Crispin's Middle Ages-speak also put me off at first and I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy the book, but once I got into it, I discovered not only an adventure tale but a great story of a boy discovering that he can take charge of his own life.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

i hate avi

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Well, to each their own. :)

Anonymous said...

i absolutly hate this book its soooo boring nothing happens i recomment you dont read it

Anonymous said...

I hate this book never read it boring EWwwwwww

Anonymous said...

Caroline read this book and hated it the worst book ever. No kid should be able to read this

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to to teach it right now in conjuction with my social studies partner's middle ages unit...tough to get the kids into it. They seem to love it or hate it. REally this also describes their usual take on AVI himeself...

Madi said...

U people are giving this book such a hard time!! i loved it!! it showed that it takes a lot to find your true self!! His mom and priest died and he met an unlikely friend and he was willing to give up anything just to help his friend!! im 11 years old and am happy to say i enjoyed it!!! Avi did agood job!!!! Keep on writin Avi!!!!

Anonymous said...

Whats the theme in Crispin the cross of lead?

Anonymous said...

i think this is a great book and all u nigger haters should get shot for not understanding this great book, and mabye ur just too young and ignorant to see what a cool book this is. fuck all of you haters.

Anonymous said...

w/e u guys, i love this book >.>

Maximillion said...

This book is one of my favorites and that's not because I haven't read many books. I've read tons of books, thousands, my favorite series' being the Pendragon series and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Crispin: The Cross of Lead is a great book and I recommend it for all ages!