Crispin’s mother just died, taking with her any knowledge of his past. In fact, the boy didn’t even learn his name until the priest told him–after the burial. He’d always just been “Asta’s son.” But the priest said his mother could read and write, that she hadn’t always lived as a serf bound to Lord Furnival’s manor. How could this be? And now that she was gone, why did the steward of the manor suddenly want Crispin dead?
Avi, a name that has become synonymous with excellence in children’s literature, has done it again. In Crispin: Cross of Lead, he’s supplied us with an imaginative story, one set in the Middle Ages, that teaches us fabulous lessons as we journey with his hero on a path toward maturity. It’s a story that rightfully captured the Newbery Medal in 2003. One I like better each time I read it.
Born to labor in Lord Furnival’s fields, Crispin has never ventured beyond the borders of the manor. Nor has he ever questioned the will of God. Fleeing for his life forces him to make decisions for the first time. But Crispin doesn’t last long on his own. The first man he comes across forces him into servitude. But one could have a much worse master than Bear, who has secrets of his own. Together, Crispin and Bear forge a friendship that withstands adversity, and Crispin discovers his past–and his soul.
An excellent choice for middle readers ten and up, Crispin has loads of historical context, plenty of “Ah-ha!” moments, and a wonderful ending. I easily give this one five stars.
Kindle edition available in title link.