Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitx - ESSENTIAL

Gidwitz, Adam The Inquisitor’s Tale : or The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, illustrated by Hatem Aly, 363 pgs. Penguin Random House (Dutton Children’s Books), 2017. $17.99.  Language: (8 swears, 0 “f”) Mature Content: G; Violence: PG13 (fighting, swordplay, death, burning).  

In 1242 France, 3 children who have certain powers and are considered Saints have found themselves alone, become outlaws, and are pursued by the King and his knights.  Jeanne, a peasant, has visions, and is travelling with her Holy Dog Gwenforte - venerated by the town and recently back from the dead. Jacob is a jewish boy whose town was burned by Christians. Jacob has the power to heal.  William has been raised to be a monk - he is large and very strong - he can break a stone bench with his bare hands.  Now, they must work together the stop the burning of some very special books.  

Most of the story is told to the Inquisitor - a guest at an inn.  Many different people know parts of the story, but together they know the whole thing - including the brewster, the librarian, the butcher, a couple of knights, a juggler and an old nun.  The reader gets a glimpse of the jobs, social classes, religions and culture of the time period through these stories. This is story of tolerance and understanding, as timely today as it would have been in the 13th century.  To give an authentic feel to the story, many of the pages have been illuminated - some pictures tying into the other, others just for decoration. The page count is a little daunting for elementary readers, and the occasional violence is a bit disturbing, however, I would highly recommend this to middle school readers. This book includes an extensive author's note, and an annotated bibliography. 


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