An engaging, compelling tale whose relatable young hero’s adventures link to a nation’s destiny.




In this debut middle-grade historical novel, a boy works to bring Magna Carta to reality in 13th-century England.

At harvest time in 1214, Taymor “Tay” Wallop, 14, is in a tough position. He’s inherited Swan Castle from his father, but the greedy King John is demanding an unaffordable inheritance tax and commandeering the stronghold’s harvest and farm animals. When Tay protests the unfairness of this, John gives him an out: get rid of the archbishop of Canterbury, who has offended the monarch by telling the country’s earls that the king must obey the law. As the brown son of a Syrian mother, Tay has already experienced discrimination, and fairness matters greatly to him. But if he doesn’t obey, the king will kill his father’s man at arms, Will, and Tay will lose Swan Castle. Early on his journey, Tay meets Archer, about 19, a talented bowman with a secret who’s been led by a dream to help the teen. Tay is impressed by the archbishop’s saintliness and can’t bear to kill him. Instead, the archbishop inspires Tay to embark on a mission to persuade the earls to support a new charter of fair play. Soon joined by Lucy, 12, who’s running from a forced marriage, Tay and Archer travel the country, hoping against hope to succeed. Though beset by dangers, Tay’s faith brings him—and the country’s leaders—to Runnymede for the historic sealing of Magna Carta. Useful information on history, places, and people plus a glossary are included. In her novel, Glass tells an exciting story of brave deeds and the transformation of a government, backed up by historical and cultural details that bring this long-ago world to life. The characters are well drawn, and it’s especially nice to see a person of color in a time period too often imagined as solely white. While Tay’s experience is bolstered by prayer, nonreligious readers can still respond to the universal appeal of fairness and cheer for those who risked all to bring it about.

An engaging, compelling tale whose relatable young hero’s adventures link to a nation’s destiny.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-973671-32-9

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A wondrous occurrence, an ancient tradition, and an elderly nun’s abiding faith are the basis of this moving Chirstmas tale from dePaola (26 Fairmount Avenue, p. 629, etc.). Sister Angie is overjoyed when her niece Lupe and her husband are selected to play Mary and Joseph—here, Maria and José—for Las Posadas, the reenactment of the journey into Bethlehem. When Sister Angie becomes ill and Lupe and Roberto become stranded in a heavy snowstorm, it seems as if the celebration will be delayed. However, a couple arrives just in time to take the place of the missing players. The whole village participates in the procession, from the singers who follow Mary and Joseph, to the “devils” who attempt to prevent the weary travelers from finding lodging. After several rebuffs, the couple arrives at the gates of the courtyard; these open and the entire assembly enters to celebrate. When Lupe and Roberto finally show up, the other couple is nowhere to be found. The story takes a supernatural twist when Sister Angie discovers that the figures in the church’s manger scene have come to life, temporarily, for the procession. The mysteries and miracles of the season are kept at bay; this simple narrative spells everything out, resulting in a primer on the tradition. Richly hued, luminescent illustrations radiate from the pages; an introduction and author’s note provide additional information. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23400-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-670-88104-X

Page Count: 82

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1999

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