Fire, Bed and Bone

Overview

"Even readers with little knowledge of (or interest in) British feudal systems and peasant revolts may find themselves engrossed in this unique fictional tale set in 1381 and told from a hunting dog's point of view." — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)

A Smarties Book Prize Bronze Award Winner

A VOICE OF YOUTH ADVOCATES Honor Book

A KLIATT Editors' Choice

"Branford's ...

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Overview

"Even readers with little knowledge of (or interest in) British feudal systems and peasant revolts may find themselves engrossed in this unique fictional tale set in 1381 and told from a hunting dog's point of view." — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)

A Smarties Book Prize Bronze Award Winner

A VOICE OF YOUTH ADVOCATES Honor Book

A KLIATT Editors' Choice

"Branford's subtle, poetic writing . . . evokes both the splendor of nature and the turbulence of the times. The author's remarkable understanding of animal behavior and human tendencies reverberates throughout this eloquent historic tale." — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)

"The exciting plot . . . never hits a false note as related through the dog's sensibilities. . . . An ingenious tour de force." — SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

In 1381 in England, a hunting dog recounts what happens to his beloved master Rufus and his family when they are arrested on suspicion of being part of the peasants' rebellion led by Wat Tyler and the preacher John Ball.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Even readers with little knowledge of or interest in British feudal systems and peasant revolts may find themselves engrossed in this unique fictional tale set in 1381 and told from a hunting dog's point of view. The canine enjoys a comfortable existence with her family of serfs until her master and mistress are abruptly arrested for attending revolutionary rallies. The hound turns hero: she manages to find a home for the pair's children, finds the couple en route to prison and brings them their baby's hat so they know their children are safe. Through the dog's eyes, readers get an objective view of various acts of evildoingincluding the execution of Rufus, his master, and the villainous miller's unlawful usurping of Rufus's propertybefore the canine and her clan do what they can to restore justice. Branford's subtle, poetic writing "We slipped away under the trees to look for wood mice. But there was a bad smell under the trees, a smell of sickness and sorrow and secrets" evokes both the splendor of nature and the turbulence of the times. The author's remarkable understanding of animal behavior and human tendencies reverberate throughout this eloquent historic tale and may well have readers considering what truly goes on in the mind of a dog. Ages 10-14. Apr.
Children's Literature - Teresa Jindo
Just as Jack London used a dog for his narrator in Call of the Wild, Branford successfully uses the same technique here. The story provokes many emotions through the trials and tribulations of lives given and taken. This is the story of the life of a dog and her kind owners, Rufus and Comfort, whom she serves faithfully because of the respect and love they show toward her. However, her comfortable life with them changes when King Richard, upset with the peasants' revolt in England, orders imprisonments, and Rufus and Comfort are taken. Their faithful and courageous dog saves their children and her pups from harm making sure they will be taken care of in their parents' absence. Once the young are safe, she does what she can to help her owners survive the tough times.
VOYA - Alice F. Stern
A combination of fantasy and historical fiction, this unusual novel takes place in 1381 England during the peasant's rebellion led by Wat Tyler. What makes this story unusual is that all the action is shown through the eyes of an old hunting dog owned by a peasant family. When Comfort and Rufus, the parents in the family, are arrested on suspicion of taking part in the rebellion, the dog finds ways to help them--like finding their baby's hat and bringing it to them to let them know she is still alive. Comfort and Rufus face fear, physical hardship, starvation, and eventually Rufus's execution. The dog faces her own hardships. She is abused, separated from the humans who loved and treated her well, and raises her own family. The writing is lovely, poetic at times. Even the names of the characters resonate--Lupus, Vetchen, and Ede as human examples; Fleabane, Squill, and Parsnip for the dogs. The characters themselves, canine and human, are well drawn. Younger YAs, as well as fans of such stories as Westall's Blitzcat (Scholastic, 1989/VOYA February 1990) will enjoy this, as will historical fiction fans with an interest in the setting who are willing to accept a different species of protagonist. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8).
School Library Journal
Gr 6 UpThe author's deep understanding of dogs is combined with an equally deep feeling for history to create a remarkable, touching story set in England during the fateful year of 1381. The narrator is an aging but still able farm dog, in her day the best hunter on four legs or two. Her humble owner, Rufus, and his wife Comfort are good to the dog and her pups, providing the "fire, bed, and bone" and the affection that keeps the animals from the wild forest life. The couple works assiduously at making their small holding of land prosper to build a better life for their children. However, times are cruel. Throughout the country unjust landlords press their tenants harshly. Charismatic reformers preach against the corruption, rebellious ideas spread, and eventually Rufus and Comfort are caught up in the Peasants' Revolt. When their involvement is discovered, life changes drastically for people and canines alike. The exciting plot, filled with hope, action, and tragedy, never hits a false note as related through the dog's sensibilities. Branford has produced an ingenious tour de force.Starr E. Smith, Marymount University Library, Arlington, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780754050476
  • Publisher: Sound Library
  • Publication date: 10/1/1998
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: UNABRIDGED

Meet the Author

Henrietta Branford grew up in the countryside with "hunting, hunting dogs, and a library of very good, old books. My father taught me a great deal about animals from a shooting and fishing perspective. It was an extremely accurate and unsentimental way to learn about how an animal thinks." Henrietta Branford held a variety of jobs before she began writing at age forty, starting with a regular column in a local newspaper and then moving on to children's fiction.
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