I will mention a few here and include a review of the most intriguing title I read recently.
Crispin The Cross of Lead by Avi was a favorite because Avi is an author I love. Before he became an author Avi was a librarian, so we have books and a love of reading in common.
The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer. This non-fiction title arranged as a travel guide helped me immensely in finding out how people traveled in medieval Europe, where they stayed, what they wore and their health and hygiene.
By far the most intriguing book on the list was 'The Inquisitor's Tale' by Adam Gidwitz.
Written as a spin off of 'The Canterbury Tales' for middle grade readers it chronicled the tale of three magical children and their Holy Dog, and was a Newbery Honor Book for 2016.
The reviews were glowing and I will mention only a few here and finish up with my take on one of my favorite books on the lengthy list.
From School Library Journal:
'Gidwitz is on fire here, making medieval history feel fresh and current.
From Sara Lipton professor of medieval history at SUNY, Stony Brook:
'...a well researched and thoughtful engaging adventure, which beautifully imagines the feel and texture of thirteenth-century France. It is also a moving exploration of friendship, curiosity, and a love of learning in a world all too filled with narrow-mindedness and hate."
This riveting tale of three very different orphans with supernatural powers traveling across France to escape the clutches of the French king is filled with humor and superb attention to detail on every page. The adventures the children experience are close to miracles and they are hounded at each step by the king's spies and eventually come to their final showdown in the waves at the foot of the abbey at Mont Saint-Michel.
Don't miss this one if you are in the mood for a rollicking adventure filled with historical detail and heartfelt friendships.
Over the past five years I have poured over books set during the middle ages to get a better understanding of the time period and my characters. Below you will find my bibliography. Next post I will review some of my favorites so you may enjoy them as well. They are in no specific order, some being non-fiction and biographies but most are juvenile titles since my Relic Hunter series is for Middle Grade readers.
The Squire, the Knight, and His Lady-Gerald Morris-MG
Ghost Knight-Cornelia Funke-MG
The Youngest Templar Series-Michael Spradlin-MG
The Ramsey Scallop-Frances Temple-MG
Isabella of Castille-Nancy Rubin
By Fire by Water-Mitchell James Kaplan
Kings of the Grail-Margaret Torres Sevilla
The Passion of Dolssa-Julie Berry
War Horse-Don Bolognesse-MG
Writing Historical Fiction-James A. Thom
The Book without Words-Avi-MG
The Inquisitor's Tale-Adam Gidwitz-MG
Arthur at the Crossing Places-Kevin Crossley-Holland-MG
Arthur and the King of the Middle March-Kevin Crossley-Holland-MG
The Seeing Stone-Kevin Crossley-Holland-MG
Gatti's Tale-Kevin Crossley-Holland-MG
Relics of God-Keith Sniadack
The Last Templar-Michael Jecks
Jack Templar: Monster Hunter-MG
A World Lit Only By Fire-William Manchester
The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England-Ian Mortimer
The Witch in the Well-Sharan Newman
The Wandering Arm-Sharan Newman
In the Wake of the Plague-Norman Cantor
Canterbury Tales-Geoffrey Chaucer
The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane-C.M. Miller
Walking the Way A Medieval Quest-Neal Wiegman
A Medieval Feast-Alike
Marguerite Makes a Book-Bruce Robertson
A Stitch in Air-Lori Carlson
The Kitchen Knight: A Tale of King Arthur-Margaret Hodges
Now for an introduction to the chapter where all the excitement starts for the Relic Hunters. It begins on a pilgrimage to a holy shrine near you guessed it, Granada. Martin de Arce, Rodrigo's master and the lieutenant commander, is along as an escort for one of Queen Isabella's bishops as well as to provide protection for the pilgrims traveling to the shrine. They are nearing a river and a pass that has been a haven for Moorish ambushes. It is a beautiful day and the friends have learned much from the travelers, one who works as a physician, and another as a cobbler. But Rene is anxious about her uncle, a musician who is a friend of the bishop, a man she doesn't trust. Let's find out what happens to the friends and Martin, the Santiago Knight next.
Here is Chapter 34 from The Relic Hunters - Santiago Knight for your reading pleasure.
This seemed like an appropriate title that would attract teen readers with the adventures of four young relic hunters during the dangerous events surrounding the Spanish Inquisition.
Two boys, Rodrigo and Farid and two girls-Rene and Anne work together to foil the evil Bishop Osorio and his minions from stealing relics from cathedrals in Aragon. They have the aid of Arturo, a local duke's son and also Crimino a dwarf with unusual talents.
A bit about the characters:
Rodrigo-is the squire of Martin de Arce, a Santiago knight. Rodrigo wants to someday become a horse trainer in the service of King Ferdinand but for the present is caught up in the adventure of locating and returning holy relics.
Rene-an orphan who is masquerading as a boy and works as a blacksmith. Her uncle, a minstrel, tries to make her play the dulcimer and sing to help him make money, but she has a talent for repairing armor and finds an ally with Rodrigo and his master, Martin.
Farid-Rodrigo's friend who travels on the pilgrimage with him to find the stolen relics. His father was a crusader to the Holy Land where he met the daughter of a caliph and secretly married. Farid is his son and although his father is dead, he has heard that his mother is alive and wishes to find her.
Anne-the daughter of Martin who was kidnapped as a child by her Jewish grandfather. When Martin is killed in battle he tasks Rodrigo to find her and give her his valuable codex that once belonged to Queen Isabella. Anne is known to as the 'Girl Who Draws Horses,' and her talent provides them with money and many valuable contacts.
On the back of this etching is information about the artist, William Kolliker, a Swiss born illustrator whose work is well known in the U.S. and Europe. Also included is information about collecting etchings that mentions the fact that you should always collect what appeals to you, which is, of course, my reason for choosing reading in art. Another reason I liked the image of the owl is that I have written a middle grade manuscript about a mole who is determined to write a book but her forest animal friends give her all the wrong advice. Millie Mole, however, does prevail in the end and wins a contest with one of her poems, which gives her the desire to continue her artistic endeavors and proves that she has the write stuff. The manuscript is entitled 'All the Write Stuff', and hopefully some day you will be able to do as the owl in my picture is doing and enjoy the story of Millie Mole for yourself.