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Crispin: The Cross of Leadby Avi
2003 Newbery Medal Winner
Synopses & Reviews
"Asta's son" is all he's ever been called. The lack of name is appropriate, because he and his mother are but poor peasants in fourteenth-century medieval England. But this thirteen-year-old boy who thought he had little to lose soon finds himself with even less — no home, family, or possessions. Accused of a crime he did not commit, he has been declared a "wolf's head." That means he may be killed on sight, by anyone. If he wishes to remain alive, he must flee his tiny village. All the boy takes with him is a newly revealed name — Crispin — and his mother's cross of lead.
His journey through the English countryside is amazing and terrifying. Especially difficult is his encounter with the juggler named Bear. A huge, and possibly even mad, man, Bear forces the boy to become his servant. Bear, however, is a strange master, for he encourages Crispin to think for himself.
Though Bear promises to protect Crispin, the boy is being relentlessly pursued. Why are his enemies so determined to kill him? Crispin is gradually drawn right into his enemies' fortress where — in a riveting climax — he must become a different person if he is to save Bear's life and his own.
He discovers that by losing everything, he has gained the most precious gift of all: a true sense of self.
A master of breathtaking plot twists and vivid characters, Avi brings the full force of his storytelling powers to the world of medieval England.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The accent, pacing, and inflection of this skilled narrator make it possible for listeners to enter fully into the struggles of life in 14th century England from the perspective of a wide cast of characters." School Library Journal
"Exciting and true to the past, this novel is historical fiction at its finest." VOYA
H "Avi's plot is engineered for maximum thrills, with twists, turns, and treachery aplenty. . . . A page-turner to delight Avi's fans, it will leave readers hoping for a sequel."-Publishers Weekly (starred review) H " . . . [T]he book is a page-turner from beginning to end . . . [A] meticulously crafted story, full of adventure, mystery, and action." -School Library Journal (starred review) "Historical fiction at its finest."-VOYA
Winner of the 2003 Newbery Medal. In medieval England, 13-year-old Crispin has no home, family, or possessions. Accused of a crime he didn't commit, he takes his mother's cross of lead and begins an amazing and terrifying journey across the English countryside.
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