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.
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.
The Book Without Words by Avi is a strange, chaotic novella set in a medieval and gothic time period in an alternate universe.
An eccentric old man named Thorston has devoted his entire life to look for the two greatest secrets of life- the making of gold and immortality. Seconds away from a breakthrough, he keels over, dead. His servant, Sybil, and talking pet raven, Odo, decide that their only hope is to discover the two secrets and build a better life for themselves.
The ultimate theme of this book plays on human nature itself, as the two secrets themselves represent man’s greatest flaws- greed and the desire for immortality.
This morally-charged storyline coupled with Avi’s odd, emotionless, and almost creepy narrating style makes for an intriguingly gruesome novella that turns the happy-go-lucky magic of youth into something curiously corrupted and cruel.
The Book Without Words by Avi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.
Crispin: The Cross of Lead is about Crispin, a poor boy who grows up shunned. Crispin grows up in Stromford, a manor run by Lord Furnival and the steward John Ayecliffe. After Crispin’s mother dies and he is charged with robbery, Crispin leaves Stromford to go to a different town. On the way he comes across a town in ruins. Looking around, Crispin sees a man in a Church. The man asks Crispin what he’s doing there and where he came from. The man soon claims Crispin as his servant after learning that he escaped from Lord Furnival. The two set off with Crispin not entirely trusting the man named Bear. As the two get to know each other more, they become friends. Soon Crispin learns that he has also been charged with the murder of Father Quinel. Then, in Great Wexly, Bear and Crispin find out that Ayecliffe is also in Great Wexly. Soon after, Bear is captured. He is taken to the Lord’s house. Crispin then decides to rescue Bear and leave Great Wexly. At night, Crispin sneaks into the Lord’s house and tries to find Bear. While looking for Bear, Crispin runs into Ayecliffe. Ayecliffe turns to call the guards, but then Crispin tells Ayecliffe something that makes him pale. He tells him that he is Lord Furnival’s son. Ayecliffe knows it’s true, but tries to dismiss it as a lie. Finally, Ayecliffe gives in and admits to knowing. Crispin uses this as leverage to make Ayecliffe set him and Bear free. Ayecliffe agrees to set them free, but right before they leave Great Wexly, Ayecliffe tries to go back on his word. However his attempt is stopped by Bear killing Ayecliffe. All the guards then back away in fear as Bear and Crispin leave Great Wexly free of any kind of obligations.
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available as a free download from Overdrive.