Synopses & Reviews
In his thirteenth year, Will Sparrow, liar and thief, becomes a runaway. On the road, he encounters a series of con artists—a pickpocket, a tooth puller, a pig trainer, a conjurer—and learns that others are more adept than he at lying and thieving. Then he reluctantly joins a traveling troupe of "oddities," including a dwarf and a cat-faced girl, holding himself apart from the "monsters" and resolving to be on guard against further deceptions. At last Will is forced to understand that appearances are misleading and that he has been his own worst deceiver. The rowdy world of market fairs in Elizabethan England is the colorful backdrop for Newbery medalist Cushman's new comic masterpiece.
"A compelling coming-of-age road trip."
"Set in Elizabethan England, the novel is built upon Cushman's thorough research and solid understanding of the period."
"[Cushman] manages the tricky balance of keeping her characters engaging and understandable for her audience while still making them very much of their time."
"Fascinating, sometimes seemingly preposterous, details are solidly corroborated in the informative author's note that reflects Cushman's extensive research."
—School Library Journal
"Offering action, humor, and heart in equal doses, Cushman's story is, at its core, about creating and claiming a family of one's own."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Lively and amusing . . . . [Cushman's] details have the surprising aptness of an Elizabeth Enright story—or, to step outside children's books, a Raymond Chandler novel."
—The New York Times Book Review
“Karen Cushman is a master of portraying personal transformation. . . . A warmhearted portrait of a boy coming to terms with himself and the world.”
—Historical Novels Society
"As usual, Cushman is adept at bringing the past to vivid life, with evocative details from daily Elizabethan life and authentic, often humorous dialogue."
"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.
From Newbery medalist Karen Cushman, the adventures of a lovable rogue and vagabond—a perfect picaresque.