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AT THE CROSSING PLACES by Kevin Crossley-Holland Kirkus Star


by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-439-26598-3
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

It’s the year 1200, and young Arthur de Caldicot is at the crossing-places, those murky, in-between places not quite defined: dawn and dusk, New Year’s Day, the foreshore, and the times and places of our lives where change is likely. Arthur is living in the Marches—part English, part Welsh—beginning a new life as squire for Lord Stephen at Holt Castle. He now knows that Sir John and Lady Helen are not his real parents; he knows his father is a murderer but doesn’t know his real mother. In this second of the planned trilogy, Crossley-Holland (The Seeing Stone, 2001, etc.) takes readers along with Arthur de Caldicot through the seeing stone Merlin gave him to witness the drama of the Arthurian tales: Arthur’s coronation, Excalibur, the Round Table, Morgan Le Fay, Sir Gawain, and the Holy Grail. Certain themes and moral ideas continue from the first volume: “Who we are isn’t only a matter of blood; it’s what we make of ourselves.” “If God loves us all the same, why doesn’t He treat us all the same?” Arthur grows up with guidance from Lord Stephen, Merlin, and the lessons of the seeing stone. This is a handsome volume with 101 chapters, a spacious design, and page decorations based on 13th-century ornamental lettering. Though many issues are left up in the air by the end of the lengthy work, the ending itself is a crossing-place. Arthur is not home nor has he made it to Jerusalem. He is living his dream of being a squire on a Crusade, but he yearns to be home, too. He has yet to find his mother, and he wonders about his new relationship with Winnie de Verdon. Readers will look forward to the third installment of this grand epic tale to see what Arthur makes of himself. (cast of characters, author’s note, word list) (Fiction. 12+)