Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Historic Fiction: Crispin:The Cross of Lead by Avi

Bibliographic data
Avi. Crispin: The Cross of Lead. Hyperion Books for Children, New York, 2002. ISBN: 078680828-4

Brief plot summary
A poor peasant boy has just lost everything that he has ever known, and now a “wolf’s head” has been placed on him. Having only been called “Asta’s boy”, he is shocked to learn that he was christened “Crispin” and learns that there was a lot his mother did not tell him before she died. In order to stay alive he must flee the village that he has always called home, and set out for the unknown. There he runs into Bear, a traveling entertainer who is a lot more than he seems. With Bear, Crispin begins find out who he is, where he came from, and where he is going.

Critical analysis
Avi has produced another wonderful novel with Crispin: The Cross of Lead. Crispin is a young boy with nothing to call his own, no home, no family, not even a name. As the story continues, Crispin starts connecting the dots of the information that he has picked up over the years. Set in medieval times, many students might shy away from this book due to the lack of knowledge about these times. If given a chance, the death of the mom and the “wolf’s head” put on him that are right at the beginning will grab them and keep them wanting more. Avi has written characters that can be related to on so many different levels, such as Crispin’s empty life and Bear’s need to protect him. Readers will be begging for more by the end.

Review excerpts
a. Publishers Weekly- “A page turner to delight Avi's fans, it will leave readers hoping for a sequel.”
b. School Library Journal- “The result is a meticulously crafted story, full of adventure, mystery, and action.”
c. Booklist- “Avi builds an impressive backdrop for his arresting characters.”

A. Related Books:
Crispin: At the Edge of the World by Avi
B. Activities
In the classroom the students could be creating a comparison about medieval times and present day. Medieval times can be fascinating but confusing. Letting the students research before you start the book would give the students a better idea of why things worked that way. You could also compare it to Robin Hood.

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