Crispin: The Cross of Lead is a Newberry award-winning novel by Avi. The story is set in medieval England. The main character is an unnamed peasant boy. His mother Asta is his only relation, so he is known simply as “Asta’s son.” Life is difficult for him, especially under the command of John Aycliffe. Aycliffe is a steward watching over Stromford Village while Lord Furnival is away. Aycliffe is cruel and ruthless. He accuses Asta’s son of a theft that he did not commit. Forced to flee for his life, Asta’s son must escape the village. Before the boy embarks on his journey, a priest finally reveals to him his name: Crispin.
I enjoyed this book. I found it to be fast-paced and enthralling. I especially liked a character Crispin meets in his travels, named “Bear.” Bear is a large, portly juggler who compels Crispin to become his assistant. I liked how Crispin’s trust and friendship with Bear grew as they were pursued by Crispin’s assailants. Crispin trying to avoid the people who accused him of theft was very exciting. As a fugitive, he must keep moving to new places, which gave the book an adventurous and exhilarating feel.
I have also read the sequel to Crispin, and I look forward to reading the third book in the series. The Newberry award seems well-deserved. The characters are well-developed and the story is quite gripping. Crispin is a fugitive throughout the book and his life is in constant danger. I was excited to learn about Crispin’s true identity. I would definitely recommend this book.