Crispin: The Cross of Lead

“The houses had countless windows, mostly with shutters but some with glass, more than I had ever seen before. As for doors, I did not think the world had so many. These people, I thought, must live their lives by little more than entries and exits.” (Crispin by Avi)

I have been meaning to read some Avi for a while, since his historical fictions always look so scintillating sitting on the shelf, but had never actually seen the book Crispin (the obvious place to start) until now. Its carefully constructed language and the profound themes of freedom, however, made the wait well worthwhile.

Avi does a phenomenal job of writing from the first-person perspective of a young boy. At the beginning of the book, before Crispin even knows his own name, the reader is given very little description because the main character hardly notices anything himself. By the time Crispin and his mentor, Bear, reach Great Wexly, however, he is all eyes and ears and spends pages noticing the miniscule aspects of the city. The writing reflects Crispin’s changing awareness, and as his mind broadens he also understands more about his sometimes-terrifying mentor. A reader can sometimes glimpse the reality behind his narrow worldview, but it is pleasantly surprising when even we are taken in by his perceptions.

Beverage: Since this is a book about discovering something outside your world – why not try something new? Have you ever had real chai, simmered for thirty minutes on the stove in milk? I’d recommend Rishi’s Masala Chai. What about some slowly made real hot cocoa?

Reminds me… however vaguely, of The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo.



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