Remember my goal of reading all the Newbery books? I finished Avi's 2003 Newbery Medal Winner: Crispin: the Cross of Lead and have moved onto my 3rd Newbery book: Carolyn Sherwin Bailey's Miss Hickory.
What Avi accomplishes in Crispin: the Cross of Lead, is no small feat--he simultaneously sucks the reader into a mystery and medieval times from the first chapter. We meet Asta's son, a nameless peasant who has just lost his mother and home, and been falsely proclaimed a "wolf's head," (someone who has commited a crime and may be killed on sight by anyone). Taking bold steps Asta's son--now going by the name Crispin--flees the life he's known and along the way meets the performer Bear, who forces Crispin to examine the world around him with new eyes. As Crispin travels with Bear he is unwilling drawn back towards the things he fears the most, and yet must face, and along the way comes to understand the mystery of his cross of lead.
I loved this book from the get-go, was sucked into the story, and I'll be honest: there were definitely times when I had to set it down at some cliff-hanger moments, only to rush back to it as soon as I could! What Avi does too is give kids a little insight into medieval England--and if they're anything like me, kids will have to google some of the words for a better understanding of Medieval whatsits terminology.
Would I recommend it? Yup. Ages: Amazon suggests 8 years old and up--be warned: Crispin's a bastard--yep, it says so in the book, so, if you don't want your kid reading about that/explaining that to them yet, this might not be for them. However, I would have loved this book as a 9 year old.