CRISPIN by Avi

CRISPIN

The Cross of Lead
by
Age Range: 8 - 12
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A tale of one boy’s coming into self-knowledge is set against a backdrop of increasing peasant unrest in 14th-century England. Crispin does not even know his own name until his mother dies; he and she have lived at the literal margin of their small town, serfs, and therefore beneath notice. Suddenly, he is framed for murder and has a bounty put on his head. Escaping, he encounters the mercurial itinerant juggler Bear, who takes him on as servant and friend, teaching him both performers’ tricks and revolutionary ideology—which puts them both in danger. After a rather slow and overwritten start, Avi (The Good Dog, 2001, etc.) moves the plot along deftly, taking the two from a Black Death–devastated countryside into a city oozing with intrigue, from the aristocracy to the peasants. The setting bristles with 14th-century details: a decomposing body hangs at a roadside gallows and gutters overflow with filth. The characters are somewhat less well-developed; although the revolutionary and frequently profane Bear is a fascinating treasure, Crispin himself lurches along, progressing from milquetoast to restless rebel to boy of courage and conviction in fits and starts, driven by plot needs rather than organic character growth. The story is set in the years just prior to the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, and one of the secondary characters, the revolutionary priest John Ball, was a key historical figure. Most children will not know this, however, as there is no historical note to contextualize the story. This is a shame, as despite its flaws, this offering is nevertheless a solid adventure and could serve as the jumping-off point for an exploration into a time of great political upheaval. The title hints at a sequel; let us hope that it includes notes. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7868-0828-4
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2002




MORE BY AVI

ChildrenTHE PLAYER KING by Avi
by Avi
ChildrenSCHOOL OF THE DEAD by Avi
by Avi

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenREDWING by Holly Bennett
by Holly Bennett
IndieThe Silver Coin by Marie Sontag
by Marie Sontag