Winner of the 2003 Newbery Medal, Avi's action-packed adventure, Crispin, transports us back to 14th-century England, where a young serf on the run from his miserable past comes to discover not only his true identity but a sense of self-worth.
Infusing his tale with a deep sense of medieval time and place, Avi recounts the harrowing story of a "nameless boy" known only as "Asta's son." When his mother dies and the village steward unjustly accuses him of murder, the boy flees for his life, carrying with him his mother's lead cross and the newly revealed knowledge of his real name: Crispin. On the run, he becomes the servant and then the friend of a hulking juggler named Bear. En route to a clandestine meeting with social reformer John Ball (a real historical figure in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381), Bear is captured and imprisoned. Crispin sets out to rescue his master and discovers along the way the life-changing secret engraved on his mother's lead cross.
Crispin is one of Avi's most engaging characters, and this story one of his most moving adventures. Emerging from intense poverty of life and spirit, this young serf evolves into a complex and brave hero, as he learns that knowledge is the power that leads to true freedom. Readers will be swept away by the rich prose and historical details; Crispin is a life-affirming book that picks you up -- and doesn't let you down. Matt Warner