Monday, July 17, 2017

The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz

Let's start by asking if you're still working on finishing the Reading Marathon. If so, you're going to love this book, because it can fit into several categories: award winner, set in a foreign country, and there's even some characters who aren't human. And now, of course, it will be on VBPL Recommends and recommended by a librarian.

Adam Gidwitz is known for having reinvented the Grimm tales and now he's tapped into his inner-Chaucer with the medieval adventure story The Inquisitor's Tale Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog. Set in France in 1242, it is centered on three very different children who are thrown together by chance - or maybe divine providence. Jeanne is a peasant girl who experiences visions of the future and is accompanied by a greyhound who may or may not be the resurrected embodiment of Saint Gwenforte. William is an oblate - a monk-in-training - left at the Abbey as an infant by his crusading father.  His mother is presumed to be North African Muslim woman, and her genetic and religious legacy make William stand out; he is not only brown but also unnaturally tall and strong. Jacob is a small Jewish boy with natural healing skills who escapes when his village is burned by Christian adolescents as a lark.  All three meet on the road to the same city - Jeanne taken to stand trial, William reporting to a new abbey, and Jacob seeking refuge with relatives.  Their story is told by a variety of witnesses gathered in an inn and the tension builds as you begin to suspect that the person asking for the tales is not what they seem to be.

Gidwitz has certainly done his research and a number of real people appear in the story. Even the kids are all loosely based on actual people. This solid footing, combined with Hatem Aly's illuminated manuscript pictures, create a rollicking adventure story with a core of magic and hope. Don't forget that all your reading marathon books also count for the Summer Reading program, so don't forget to sign up for both. Keep stretching those reading muscles to get that marathon done before the end of the year.

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