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1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their 1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints. Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne's loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, in a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.


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1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their 1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints. Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne's loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, in a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.

30 review for The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

  1. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    God’s hot this year. To be fair, God has had some fairly strong supporters for quite some time. So if I’m going to clarify that statement a tad, God’s hot in children’s literature this year. Even then, that sentence is pretty vague. Here in America there are loads of Christian book publishers out there, systematically putting out title after title after title each and every year about God, to say nothing of publishers of other religions as well. Their production hasn’t increased hugely in 2016, God’s hot this year. To be fair, God has had some fairly strong supporters for quite some time. So if I’m going to clarify that statement a tad, God’s hot in children’s literature this year. Even then, that sentence is pretty vague. Here in America there are loads of Christian book publishers out there, systematically putting out title after title after title each and every year about God, to say nothing of publishers of other religions as well. Their production hasn’t increased hugely in 2016, so why the blanket statement? A final clarification, then: God is hot in children’s books from major non-Christian publishers this year. Ahhhh. That’s better. Indeed, in a year when serious literary consideration is being heaped upon books like John Hendrix’s Miracle Man, in walks Adam Gidwitz and his game changing The Inquisitor’s Tale. Now I have read my fair share of middle grade novels for kids, and I tell you straight out that I have never read a book like this. It’s weird, and unfamiliar, and religious, and irreligious, and more fun than it has any right to be. Quite simply, Gidwitz found himself a holy dog, added in a couple proto-saints, and voila! A book that’s part superhero story, part quixotic holy quest, and part Canterbury Tales with just a whiff of intrusive narration for spice. In short, nothing you’ve encountered in all your livelong days. Bon appétit. The dog was dead to begin with. A greyhound with a golden muzzle that was martyred in defense of a helpless baby. As various pub goers gather in the year 1242 to catch a glimpse of the king, they start telling stories about this dog that came back from the dead, its vision-prone mistress (a peasant girl named Jeanne), a young monk blessed with inhuman strength (William, son of a lord and a North African woman), and a young Jewish boy with healing capabilities (Jacob). These three very different kids have joined together in the midst of a country in upheaval. Some see them as saints, some as the devil incarnate, and before this tale is told, the King of France himself will seek their very heads. An extensive Author’s Note and Annotated Bibliography appear at the end. If you are familiar with Mr. Gidwitz’s previous foray into middle grade literature (the Grimm series) then you know he has a penchant for giving the child reader what it wants. Which is to say, blood. Lots of it. In his previous books he took his cue from the Grimm brothers and their blood-soaked tales. Here his focus is squarely on the Middle Ages (he would thank you not to call them “The Dark Ages”), a time period that did not lack for gore. The carnage doesn’t really begin in earnest until William starts (literally) busting heads, and even then the book feels far less sanguine than Gidwitz’s other efforts. I mean, sure, dogs die and folks are burned alive, but that’s pretty tame by Adam’s previous standards. Of course, what he lacks in disembowelments he makes up for with old stand-bys like vomit and farts. Few can match the man’s acuity for disgusting descriptions. He is a master of the explicit and kids just eat that up. Not literally of course. That would be gross. As a side note, he has probably included the word “ass” more times in this book than all the works of J.M. Barrie and Roald Dahl combined. I suspect that if this book is ever challenged in schools or libraries it won’t be for the copious entrails or discussions about God, but rather because at one point the word “ass” (as it refers to a donkey) appears three times in quick, unapologetic succession. And yes, it's hilarious when it does. So let’s talk religious persecution, religious fundamentalism, and religious tolerance. As I write this review in 2016 and politicians bandy hate speech about without so much as a blink, I can’t think of a book written for kids more timely than this. Last year I asked a question of my readers: Can a historical children’s book contain protagonists with prejudices consistent with their time period? Mr. Gidwitz seeks to answer that question himself. His three heroes are not shining examples of religious tolerance born of no outside influence. When they escape together they find that they are VERY uncomfortable in one another’s presence. Mind you, I found William far more tolerant of Jacob than I expected (though he does admittedly condemn Judaism once in the text). His dislike of women is an interesting example of someone rejecting some but not all of the childhood lessons he learned as a monk. Yet all three kids fear one another as unknown elements and it takes time and a mutually agreed upon goal to get them from companionship to real friendship. As I mentioned at the start of this review, religion doesn’t usually get much notice in middle grade books for kids from major publishers these days. And you certainly won’t find discussions about the differences between Christianity and Judaism, as when the knight Marmeluc tries to determine precisely what it is to be Jewish. What I appreciated about this book was how Gidwitz distinguished between the kind of Christianity practiced by the peasants versus the kind practiced by the educated and rich. The peasants have no problem worshipping dogs as saints and even the local priest has a wife that everyone knows he technically isn’t supposed to have. The educated and rich then move to stamp out these localized beliefs which, let's face it, harken back to the people's ancestors' paganism. Race also comes up a bit, with William’s heritage playing a part now and then, but the real focus is reserved for the history of Christian/Jewish interactions. Indeed, in his wildly extensive Author’s Note at the end, Gidwitz makes note of the fact that race relations in Medieval Europe were very different then than today. Since it preceded the transatlantic slave trade, skin color was rare and contemporary racism remains, “the modern world’s special invention.” There will probably still be objections to the black character having the strength superpower rather than the visions or healing, but he’s also the best educated and intelligent of the three. I don't think you can ignore that fact. As for the writing itself, that’s what you’re paying your money for at the end of the day. Gidwitz is on fire here, making medieval history feel fresh and current. For example, when the Jongleur says that some knights are, “rich boys who’ve been to the wars . . . Not proper at all. But still rich,” that’s a character note slid slyly into the storytelling. Other lines pop out at you too. Here are some of my other favorites: • About that Jongleur, “… he looks like the kind of child who has seen too much of life, who’s seen more than most adults. His eyes are both sharp and dead at the same time. As if he won’t miss anything, because he’s seen it all already.” • “Jeanne’s mother’s gaze lingered on her daughter another moment, like an innkeeper waiting for the last drop of ale from the barrel tap.” • “The lord and lady welcomed the knights warmly. Well, the lady did. Lord Bertulf just sat in his chair behind the table, like a stick of butter slowly melting.” • “Inside her, grand castles of comprehension, models of the world as she had understood it, shivered.” • And Gidwitz may also be the only author for children who can write a sentence that begins, “But these marginalia contradicted the text…” and get away with it. Mind you, Gidwitz paints himself into a pretty little corner fairly early on. To rest this story almost entirely on the telling of tales in a pub, you need someone who doesn’t just know the facts of one moment or the next but who could claim to know our heroes’ interior life. So each teller comes to mention each child’s thoughts and feelings in the course of their tale. The nun in the book bears the brunt of this sin, and rather than just let that go Gidwitz continually has characters saying things like, “I want to know if I’m sitting at a table filled with wizards and mind readers.” I’m not sure if I like the degree to which Gidwitz keeps bringing this objection up, or if it detracts from the reading. What I do know is that he sort of cheats with the nun. She’s the book’s deux ex machina (or, possibly the diaboli ex machina) acting partly as an impossibility and partly as an ode to the author’s love of silver haired librarians and teachers out there with “sparkling eyes, and a knowing smile.” Since a large portion of the story is taken up with saving books as objects, it fits that this book itself should be outfitted with all the beauties of its kind. If we drill down to the very mechanics of the book, we find ourselves admiring the subtleties of fonts. Every time a tale switches between the present day and the story being told, the font changes as well. But to do it justice, the story has been illuminated (after a fashion) by artist Hatem Aly. I have not had the opportunity to see the bulk of his work on this story. I do feel that the cover illustration of William is insufficiently gargantuan, but that’s the kind of thing they can correct in the paperback edition anyway. Fairy tales and tales of saints. The two have far more in common than either would like to admit. Seen in that light, Gidwitz’s transition from pure unadulterated Grimm to, say, Lives of the Improbable Saints and Legends of the Improbable Saints is relatively logical. Yet here we have a man who has found a way to tie-in stories about religious figures to the anti-Semitism that is still with us to this day. At the end of his Author’s Note, Gidwitz mentions that as he finished this book, more than one hundred and forty people were killed in Paris by terrorists. He writes of Medieval Europe, “It was a time when people were redefining how they lived with the 'other,' with people who were different from them.” The echoes reverberate today. Says Gidwitz, “I can think of nothing sane to say about this except this book.” Sermonizers, take note. For ages 10 and up.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cristina Monica

    This book asks to be read, not felt. Every book should be felt, deserves to be felt. A storyteller would be nothing without the ability to hold the heart of everyone in their clutches. Telling a story is not enough, one must feel the story, writing, characters—everything. I was very captivated in the beginning. The narration is original. A couple of people are gathered together and they each tell a snippet of the three magical children’s story, each completing the other’s tale. How original does This book asks to be read, not felt. Every book should be felt, deserves to be felt. A storyteller would be nothing without the ability to hold the heart of everyone in their clutches. Telling a story is not enough, one must feel the story, writing, characters—everything. I was very captivated in the beginning. The narration is original. A couple of people are gathered together and they each tell a snippet of the three magical children’s story, each completing the other’s tale. How original does that sound? Plus the book is filled with cute drawings on almost every one of the pages. The appearance of this book is astounding, really. I know giving it a bad review means I won’t be keeping it, and this kills me, but one should not stay in a relationship with someone because of their physique alone. The problem is that the three children have no effect on the reader. It’s unfortunate what happens to them, and it’s surprising how they get out of trouble, but it’s not sad and it’s not impressive. I feel more connected to the narrators than I do to the children. Another problem—that won’t be a problem for everyone—was the religion. It was too present. You know, I’ve read The Passion of Dolssa, which is a medieval tale also about a Holy girl and people chasing her, and the religious content never bothered me. But here it’s just so annoyingly present. God is mentioned on every page. Too much for me. On a side note, I can’t picture a kid reading this. It feels like it was written for adults to read to children. How is that good? DNF at page 180. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  3. 4 out of 5

    paula

    I finished this book last night teetering on the verge of tears. Not because it's a sad ending, although there is sorrow, and not because it's a happy ending, although there's a lot to be glad about. But because I LIVED with these children (and their holy dog) through 368 pages of fear and hardship and friendship and doubt and certainty and at times it was hard to tell whether or not things were going to turn out ok - this is, after all, an author who feels free to kill and (sometimes) resurrect I finished this book last night teetering on the verge of tears. Not because it's a sad ending, although there is sorrow, and not because it's a happy ending, although there's a lot to be glad about. But because I LIVED with these children (and their holy dog) through 368 pages of fear and hardship and friendship and doubt and certainty and at times it was hard to tell whether or not things were going to turn out ok - this is, after all, an author who feels free to kill and (sometimes) resurrect child characters - and so the TENSION was just about KILLING ME. And now all I want to do is read it again, for the beauty and the tragedy and the Talmudic wisdom and the monastic scholarship. And the cheese. Mustn't forget the cheese. Sigh.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    "To review: We have a dog that's been resurrected, a peasant girl who sees the future, a supernaturally strong oblate, and a Jewish boy with the power of miraculous healing." The children almost laughed in the silence that followed. When you put it that way, it sounded rather insane. That pretty much sums it up - three children and a dog go on a grand adventure in an attempt to stop a massive book burning. I doubt there are few Goodreads members who would not champion their cause. Though not as f "To review: We have a dog that's been resurrected, a peasant girl who sees the future, a supernaturally strong oblate, and a Jewish boy with the power of miraculous healing." The children almost laughed in the silence that followed. When you put it that way, it sounded rather insane. That pretty much sums it up - three children and a dog go on a grand adventure in an attempt to stop a massive book burning. I doubt there are few Goodreads members who would not champion their cause. Though not as funny as his Grimm series, Gidwitz does a masterful job of mixing fact, legend, and fantasy. This is probably the last novel I'll finish this year, and I'm happy to say it was one of the best. "Whether you go your separate ways or stay together, you will continue to witness -- against ignorance, against cruelty, and on behalf of all that is beautiful about this strange and crooked world."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lesley Burnap

    Read the entire book in one day. Could only keep turning the page. One of my favorite books read. Ever. Too soon to call for a medal? I may still be caught up in the heady afterglow of spending all day with Mr Gidwitz's book. Please read it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    So fabulously strange! It reminded me of The Book of Boy, in all the best ways! I read this aloud to my kids, and we all loved it, even digging in to the Author's Note at the back about the historical influences. Definitely the perfect book for history buffs or those who like a good adventure!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle Schwabauer

    I have a lot of feelings about this book, and I'm not sure how to make them mesh with one another. It's so solidly a 3.5 star read for me that even as I write this review, I'm not sure whether I'll end up rating it 3 stars or 4. What worked for me: - The three children are lovable, believable, and interesting. I appreciated that they came to the situation with their own natural ingrained prejudices instead of being the too-modern-for-their-time characters that usually appear in historical fiction I have a lot of feelings about this book, and I'm not sure how to make them mesh with one another. It's so solidly a 3.5 star read for me that even as I write this review, I'm not sure whether I'll end up rating it 3 stars or 4. What worked for me: - The three children are lovable, believable, and interesting. I appreciated that they came to the situation with their own natural ingrained prejudices instead of being the too-modern-for-their-time characters that usually appear in historical fiction. They are saints, but they are not perfect. They grow and change, along with their friendship. - The book respects religion, which isn't necessarily common in fiction. Unlike plenty of my college professors, The Inquisitor's Tale is capable of distinguishing between corrupt, manipulative, oppressive Christians, abusing their faith to gain and hold power, and the sincere Christians who walk in love. It's also rare to see a Jewish protagonist, so that was cool. - Saint Gwenforte is very pointy, and I am nothing if not a sucker for pointy dogs. I was charmed by all of the dog-with-halo illustrations as well. - The book doesn't shy away from wrestling with the kinds of hard questions that children, especially children of some kind of faith, often have but are afraid to ask. It does so in a way that respects their different beliefs and doesn't gloss over suffering with easy answers. - A few of the ally/antagonist characters, particularly King Louis, are portrayed with a surprising amount of nuance. I loved the scene where the children are struggling to understand how someone could hate Jews, defend Jews, burn Jewish books, speak up for Jews, etc. all at the same time. There are some lovely nods to the confusing complexity of humans, and how disturbing it feels when someone holds contradictory beliefs, especially when they seem to treat you perfectly well but also disparage groups to which you belong. What didn't work for me: - The humor was kind of . . . weird in places? I'm all for a little humor even in dark situations, but when major plot points felt like they were centered around first-grade scatological jokes, it was hard for me to take those portions seriously. It always felt a little jarring to me, in the midst of a story about a little girl being threatened with burning at the stake for her heretical visions, to be suddenly get thrust into an extended sequence in which your usual too-dumb-to-breathe henchmen are up to their elbows in feces. Or the farting dragon. The concept of that scene, especially the collaboration between the children and the eventual solution, were actually pretty cool, but it felt quite bizarre to try to get emotionally involved in a story about a dragon with farts that set people on fire. Like . . . a guy just went up in flames, which is horrible? But also kind of funny? Am I supposed to be laughing? Who knows? - Parts of the narrative structure stretched the bounds of believability A LOT for me. I understand that a lot of the poignancy of our ending is linked to the narrator and the story s/he tells, and that portion of the novel DID work for me, so I'm hesitant to be too hard on this one. I liked that the author tried to present the story in a weird format, but ultimately, the different voices didn't feel all that distinct from one another, and a lot of what they claimed to remember seemed like a huge stretch. At one point, one storyteller says that they know what our heroes said to one another while traveling down a road because they pieced the conversation together later by talking to several different groups of people who had passed the children that day. Uh . . . really? (Yeah, I know that I'm not supposed to take this stuff totally seriously. I'm sorry. It was just such a focal point of the book that all these people were coming together to tell this story that it really distracted me how much of it seemed wildly improbable.) - A lot of the evil people felt more like caricatures than people. As I mentioned above, there are some shining examples of nuance in this story, but for the most part, antagonists felt like exaggerated, cartoon archetypes, bumbling around in service of some competent overlord or doing the knife-to-your-throat-while-I-explain-my-evil-backstory thing. I think some of my issues reflect more on my own personality than on the objective quality of the book. I am a serious person; even as a child I would not have enjoyed the intrusion of farts and goofy henchman into an otherwise poignant story about loyalty, doubt, and religious freedom. I'm glad I read this book, and I liked the second half a lot better than the first. But I think I'm lacking some integral personality piece that made this story such a home run for the vast majority of readers. I'M SORRY RACHEL I WANTED TO GIVE IT A 3.5 BUT I CAN'T.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Abby Johnson

    I loved this so hard that I didn't want it to end (and that's high praise because finishing books and starting new ones is one of my very favorite things). The format reads like the Canterbury Tales with different narrators at a medieval inn trading off and telling the story of three children who are on a mission and who may or may not be saints (complete with miracles). It's a diverse group of children - Jeanne, a peasant girl who has visions of the future; William, a half-African student with I loved this so hard that I didn't want it to end (and that's high praise because finishing books and starting new ones is one of my very favorite things). The format reads like the Canterbury Tales with different narrators at a medieval inn trading off and telling the story of three children who are on a mission and who may or may not be saints (complete with miracles). It's a diverse group of children - Jeanne, a peasant girl who has visions of the future; William, a half-African student with super strength; and Jacob, a Jewish boy with healing powers. And each diverse role is specifically chosen to explore their role during the Middle Ages. This book says a lot about modern times while being exclusively set in the 1200s. So, in addition to being a rolicking adventure story with good doses of humor and occasional bloody violence, this is really a philosophy book. There's the question of morality - when you know something is right or wrong, where does that knowledge come from? There's the issue of hating people that are different than you are, even people you have never really met, and what that means and what can be done about it. Tons of thought and research have obviously gone into this book. Man, I love it!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Josh Newhouse

    This is a tough book to review. I personally loved it... It flowed quickly, had great voice, characters and character... Had a nice ending... Made a few turns that even surprised me... Had some great research behind it... 5 stars for me... And my fellow librarians and youth reviewers... Now for students... There's a good solid half I think kids will enjoy... There's another quarter they will make it through... However I am not sure what type of students will complete this entire book... It is dee This is a tough book to review. I personally loved it... It flowed quickly, had great voice, characters and character... Had a nice ending... Made a few turns that even surprised me... Had some great research behind it... 5 stars for me... And my fellow librarians and youth reviewers... Now for students... There's a good solid half I think kids will enjoy... There's another quarter they will make it through... However I am not sure what type of students will complete this entire book... It is deep, at times satirical, at times wholly gross and the history is certainly not pleasant often... So a great book... Critics will love... But how do we get students on board... That will be my question... Can't wait to see the illustrations that are mostly not present in this ALA arc I had Adam sign... And I am still hoping some year for a quality color printing... This book is in many ways reminiscent at least for 3/4 of Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and that was a beautiful printing!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Josiah

    When Adam Gidwitz won a 2017 Newbery Honor for The Inquisitor's Tale; Or, the Three Magical Children and their Holy Dog, I was elated. I considered his debut novel, A Tale Dark & Grimm, worthy of Newbery recognition in 2011, so to see Adam Gidwitz finally join the hallowed ranks of Newbery authors such as Rachel Field, E.B. White, Robert C. O'Brien, and Jacqueline Woodson was tremendously satisfying. The Inquisitor's Tale spirits us back to the year 1242, at an ordinary inn during a tumultuous t When Adam Gidwitz won a 2017 Newbery Honor for The Inquisitor's Tale; Or, the Three Magical Children and their Holy Dog, I was elated. I considered his debut novel, A Tale Dark & Grimm, worthy of Newbery recognition in 2011, so to see Adam Gidwitz finally join the hallowed ranks of Newbery authors such as Rachel Field, E.B. White, Robert C. O'Brien, and Jacqueline Woodson was tremendously satisfying. The Inquisitor's Tale spirits us back to the year 1242, at an ordinary inn during a tumultuous time in France's history. The esteemed King Louis IX and his mother, Blanche of Castile, have declared national war against three preteens and their canine companion. What led to such a bizarre situation? Our narrator, an unidentified young man traveling in search of the true story, finds several people staying at the inn who have firsthand experience with the children that King Louis is marshaling his army to fight. The narrative thread switches from one inn-dweller to another numerous times so every part of the story can be told, but our curious main character has plenty of time to invest in his fact-finding mission. "There are some people in this world who have magic in them. Whose very presence makes you happier. Some of those people, it turns out, are children." —The Inquisitor's Tale, P. 303 Young Jeanne has had a perilous life all the way back to her infancy. As a swaddling babe she was saved from an adder attack by the family dog, a white greyhound named Gwenforte, but a misunderstanding in regard to the attack prompted Jeanne's parents to kill Gwenforte before realizing their mistake. Over the years the village began to venerate the dog, treating her gravesite as a shrine to bring their ailing children in hopes of healing. As Jeanne aged toward preadolescence, she developed a gift of clairvoyance that occasionally threw her into fits, and only Old Theresa, the local mystic, could soothe her. When Jeanne visited Gwenforte's grave one day to find the dog alive and well, resurrected from her undeserved demise, the people regarded Jeanne as a witch, an opponent to the precepts of Christianity. Seeing fear and distrust in her own parents' eyes, Jeanne ran off with Gwenforte, pursued by armed men sent to put her to death as a pagan spiritualist. Our focus shifts to William, the second child being sought by King Louis. Son of a European crusader and a Saracen woman, William was left as a baby at the Monastery Saint-Martin, where he grew to enormous size and impressive intelligence. Now age eleven, William was an oblate—an apprentice monk—before the recent trouble started. A quarrel with a disagreeable teacher left William an outcast from the Monastery Saint-Martin, but on the route to his new residence, a few run-ins with thieves and killers provide ample evidence that the gigantic youth can more than hold his own in a physical altercation. He also has the training and worldview of a Christian theologian, capable of skillfully parrying attacks on the faith. With Jeanne and William wandering the French countryside, neither yet aware the other exists, our story turns to a Jewish boy named Jacob. His life was ripped asunder when anti-Semites torched his home village of Nogent-sur-Oise. Jacob escaped and promised to meet his parents at the home of their cousin, Rabbi Yehuda, but few made it out of the burning village alive. Are his parents likely to be among those few? By serendipity, Jeanne, Gwenforte, William, and Jacob would converge at the very inn where this tale is being told to our narrator. Shaken by their individual encounters with religious zealots, the children decide to seek refuge together in the monastery William was traveling to, though Jeanne and William have doubts about Jacob's spiritual identity. What kind of boy denies the notion of Jesus as lord and savior? Neither of them have ever met a Jew. "The mind is like a muddy road. Two ruts run down its center, from all the carts that have passed that way. No matter how many carts try to roll alongside the ruts, to stay out of the mud, sooner or later, a turn here or a jolt there will send them down into the ruts for good. Just so is the mind. As hard as we try to keep our thoughts out of the old ways, the old patterns, the old ruts, any little jog or jerk will send them right back down into the mud." —The Inquisitor's Tale, P. 157 Across France our four heroes travel, each endowed with a supernatural spiritual gift that causes some—including the famed monk, Michelangelo di Bologna—to publicly declare them saints, an idea that flabbergasts the children. Jeanne does have second sight, William is unnaturally large and strong, and Gwenforte came back from the dead. Jacob is a healer beyond the limits of human talent, but would God allow a Jew to be a saint? A boy who rejects Christianity? While William's dark skin makes it obvious he's of Saracen descent, Jacob shows no physical markers of being Jewish, which saves him quite a bit of anti-Semitic harassment in his travels with Jeanne, Gwenforte, and William. The group's fame rises after they deal with a deadly dragon who expels fire in an...unusual...way, and that wave of success carries them to the doorstep of King Louis IX and his mother, Blanche of Castile. Surely a group of young saints—they discretely omit any mention that Jacob is a Jew—will find kindness and shelter among French royalty. Alas, their biggest challenge is still to come. A strident opponent of non-Christian religion, King Louis has ordered a public mass burning of Jewish Talmuds, the holiest book in Judaism behind the Bible. Jacob is loath to allow the wisdom of rabbis down through the millennia to go up in smoke, but are Jeanne and William ready to risk their lives to preserve religious writings they don't believe in? Defiance of the royal book-burning festival places Jeanne, Gwenforte, William, and Jacob under a death sentence, subject to being hunted down and eliminated by the French army. A final confrontation will occur at the Mont-Saint-Michel abbey, but will God intervene on behalf of his precious child saints, or will they be martyred for their devotion to religious freedom? The Inquisitor's Tale doesn't feel like other Newbery books of the 2010s. It frankly explores religious themes, including discussion on issues such as why a loving god allows evil. Most mainstream juvenile literature of Adam Gidwitz's era avoided such talk, but this book embraces it without taking sides among Europe's prominent religions of the Middle Ages. I did, however, find the portrayal of Jeanne and William's Christian faith to be shallow; they know a lot about secondary doctrine and traditions, but are content to disregard the essentials of Jesus' exclusivity claims and the implications of those claims as they pertain to Jacob's potential sainthood. The first two hundred seventy pages or so of the book are exposition, and therefore lack immediacy; that's another downside to The Inquisitor's Tale. It's not as emotionally deep as Adam Gidwitz's Grimm trilogy, but I do appreciate a novel that incorporates obscure elements of historical fiction, and isn't afraid to venture into areas rarely visited in children's stories. The Inquisitor's Tale isn't among my favorite of the author's books, but I remain pleased that it earned a Newbery Honor. I would much prefer had A Tale Dark & Grimm been the Honoree, but Adam Gidwitz definitely deserved a Newbery at some point in his career.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    I absolutely loved this book. I like how the story is never told by the main characters themselves. This book had a lot of action. Adam Gidwitz made this story seem longer than it actually is.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Briana

    As some of you who follow the blog know, I study medieval literature, so I really, really wanted to like The Inquisitor's Tale.  The world simply needed a middle grade novel inspired by Saint Guinefort (a greyhound who really did acquire his own cult during the Middle Ages).  Touches of Joan of Arc and other historical figures make this book right up my alley. So I'm sad to say I was bored through most of the book, and I really don't think I would have enjoyed it if I'd read it as a child. Most o As some of you who follow the blog know, I study medieval literature, so I really, really wanted to like The Inquisitor's Tale.  The world simply needed a middle grade novel inspired by Saint Guinefort (a greyhound who really did acquire his own cult during the Middle Ages).  Touches of Joan of Arc and other historical figures make this book right up my alley. So I'm sad to say I was bored through most of the book, and I really don't think I would have enjoyed it if I'd read it as a child. Most of my pleasure in the book came from playing "spot the medieval reference." And medieval references are something Gidwitz is great at.  The book draws on a lot of medieval tales but mostly uses them as inspiration, rather  than using them in their entirety. So Jeanne has elements of Joan of Arc, but she isn't Joan. She has visions, for instance, but she is not called to lead France through a war.  Jacob isn't any historical in particular, but represents the Jews who lived in France in the Middle Ages. And Gidwitz portrays the attitudes of the Middle Ages pretty faithfully.  Though there are violent parts of the book, one could argue that the darkest parts of the story are the various prejudices the children protagonists encounter: against Jews, Muslims, women, peasants, etc. Gidwitz explores these issues thoughtfully, while asking some tough questions like "How can someone say they hate Jews while befriending a Jewish boy?" Gidwitz shows the nuances in medieval thought, which is great, since the Middle Ages often get dismissed as a boring period of complete ignorance in pop culture. The format of the book is also clever, if you're into Chaucer.  Gidwitz alludes to The Canterbury Tales by having different characters tell each chapter and titling them such things as "The Jongleur's Tale."  There are also asides, as the storytellers interact with each other, in between telling their tales.  This structure, however, is also one of the sticking points for me.   It means that the protagonists' story is told by a conglomeration of people who, for the most part, were not really in the story.  It creates some distance between the protagonists and the readers. It also means the story is constantly interrupted by the frame tale, which is something I just personally dislike in books. The other reservation I have is about the plot and pacing. As I mentioned, I was simply bored thought a lot of the book. Stuff was constantly happening, but it took a while for it to all come together into any discernible overarching story.  I felt as if I were just watching characters run around inanely for half the book. The only reason I didn't DNF is because, seriously, I'm really into the Middle Ages. The Inquisitor's Tale has really high ratings in general on Goodreads, and I can respect that since the book is clearly well-researched and rather creative.  However, this is one instance where I would love to get some children's opinions on the book.  I do not think I would have liked or finished this novel if I had read it when I was in middle school. It's slow and complex and altogether simply unusual for a children's book. I didn't relate to the characters or even understand for half the book what it was they were trying to accomplish.  I wonder if this will be a hit with adults more so than with the target audience.

  13. 5 out of 5

    HannahT_E2

    Okay. Three children with magical powers going on an adventure with a dog. Nothing special, to be honest. They're definitely gonna end up saving the world or something heroic like that. Wrong. Rather than telling it's readers about predictable, overtold adventures, this book tells more about religion, persecution, prejudice, and farting dragons. Especially the last one. I really enjoyed reading Adam Gidwitz's "The Inquisitor's Tale". Not only because it was informative (in a way), but also because Okay. Three children with magical powers going on an adventure with a dog. Nothing special, to be honest. They're definitely gonna end up saving the world or something heroic like that. Wrong. Rather than telling it's readers about predictable, overtold adventures, this book tells more about religion, persecution, prejudice, and farting dragons. Especially the last one. I really enjoyed reading Adam Gidwitz's "The Inquisitor's Tale". Not only because it was informative (in a way), but also because it was so funny. Evidently, the author spent a long time researching different topics in order to write this book. His story telling skills are astounding. I highly recommend this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    Absolutely love all the books I have read from Adam Gidwitz so far and The Inquisitor’s Tale was no exception. A fantastic story set in the middle ages with beautiful characters, fast-moving action, beautiful artwork in the marginalia, and such a wonderful set of values that it transmits. My son and I are all in for these excellent books!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Evi

    Just edited because realized I wrote advise not advice at the end haha The Inquisitor’s Tale wins the award for most excuses made to not read a book. And longest time ever taken to read a book. And the most uninteresting book ever. I came up with countless reasons why I shouldn’t read the book. Need examples? Here: “Should I play piano or read this book? I’ll play piano.” “It’s 1 A.M. in the morning and I can’t go to sleep. What should I do? Knit or read? I’ll knit. “Should I do my Greek school home Just edited because realized I wrote advise not advice at the end haha The Inquisitor’s Tale wins the award for most excuses made to not read a book. And longest time ever taken to read a book. And the most uninteresting book ever. I came up with countless reasons why I shouldn’t read the book. Need examples? Here: “Should I play piano or read this book? I’ll play piano.” “It’s 1 A.M. in the morning and I can’t go to sleep. What should I do? Knit or read? I’ll knit. “Should I do my Greek school homework or read? I’ll do Greek school homework.” There are many more of these excuses. I mean, I never choose doing my Greek school homework over reading a book. This book probably took me so long (8 days!!) because of all the putting the book aside stuff. The part I really only liked was at the very end, when some cool things happened. But it doesn’t make up for what happened in the beginning. Here is my advice to you: If you want to read this book, but don’t like it in the first 8-10 chapters, you won’t like the whole thing. Don’t put it down, because the ending is sort of cool. Many people also like this book too, though. It’s really the type of book that you really only love or hate...like cilantro.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I have no words. I cannot adequately describe it. Other than a Jewish boy, an oblate and a peasant girl. And a greyhound. I do not say this lightly...but I believe this book might have just given me my faith back. In God. In the universe. In goodness. In wisdom. In what is right.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    So thoroughly researched. Absolutely love how many different tales were woven together. And what a wonderful message of inclusion and respecting differences of others for today's kids.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    I read this and am simultaneously listening to it on Audible with my daughter. It is a perfectly delightful experience in both formats. In print, I adored the lovely illuminations and marginalia. On audio, the various actors give new layers to an already rich and complex story. The story itself is so sweet and fun and just exactly what I wanted to read right now. I loved it so much, and my daughter is loving it as well. I’m a medievalist so this really rang my bell to see a YA medieval fiction t I read this and am simultaneously listening to it on Audible with my daughter. It is a perfectly delightful experience in both formats. In print, I adored the lovely illuminations and marginalia. On audio, the various actors give new layers to an already rich and complex story. The story itself is so sweet and fun and just exactly what I wanted to read right now. I loved it so much, and my daughter is loving it as well. I’m a medievalist so this really rang my bell to see a YA medieval fiction that kids might get into. — Kristen McQuinn from The Best Books We Read In April 2017: http://bookriot.com/2017/05/01/riot-r...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ann

    In a recent interview in The Horn Book, Adam Gidwitz talks about his teaching days as being filled with "serious fun" -- I love that concept. Yes, kids love having fun, laughing, sharing silly or gross stories. They also love to dig into serious topics and want us adults to ask for their opinions. Gidwitz has legions of fans for his exciting, engrossing retellings of Grimm's tales. In his newest book, he tackles medieval life, religious intolerance and the power of deep loyal friendship--all with In a recent interview in The Horn Book, Adam Gidwitz talks about his teaching days as being filled with "serious fun" -- I love that concept. Yes, kids love having fun, laughing, sharing silly or gross stories. They also love to dig into serious topics and want us adults to ask for their opinions. Gidwitz has legions of fans for his exciting, engrossing retellings of Grimm's tales. In his newest book, he tackles medieval life, religious intolerance and the power of deep loyal friendship--all with a healthy dose of fun, adventure and brilliant storytelling. What will draw children to this story? They will love Gidwitz's storytelling as William battles the fiends in the forest, or Jacob cures the farting dragon by realizing stinky cheese is setting his farts on fire. They will love the way Gwenforte the greyhound is loyal to the children, guiding and protecting them. Young readers will also connect emotionally to Jeanne, William and Jacob--feeling often as they do, that no one understands them except for their loyal friends. Just as importantly, children will be drawn into this story where young heroes decide to take a stand for what's right, fighting against ignorance and intolerance, proclaiming that collaboration and friendship is not only possible across social groups but thrives among different social groups. Society is still struggling with these very issues today.

  20. 5 out of 5

    KC

    This tale begins in 1242, an unlikely group of children Jeanne, William, and Jacob along with a Jeanne's greyhound, Gwenforte, find themselves traveling through France to Mont Saint-Michel. All three are gifted, and at times cursed, as saints. The miracles they perform are often as seen as heresy. While they run from the prejudice of their families and fellow villagers, the king sends knights after them so they can be prosecuted. I had a bit of trouble with the telling of this story. There were This tale begins in 1242, an unlikely group of children Jeanne, William, and Jacob along with a Jeanne's greyhound, Gwenforte, find themselves traveling through France to Mont Saint-Michel. All three are gifted, and at times cursed, as saints. The miracles they perform are often as seen as heresy. While they run from the prejudice of their families and fellow villagers, the king sends knights after them so they can be prosecuted. I had a bit of trouble with the telling of this story. There were some parts that were humorous and age appropriate and some that were quite violent and overly graphic. The language was sometimes immature and silly and did not reflect the time period or content of the story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sophie Brookover

    Probably the best book I've read this year. It's sort of a medieval Fellowship of the Ring where the group is three kids (a girl & two boys, one a Jewish healer and the other a very tall, strong biracial monk) & a miracle-performing dog who find themselves on the run from the King of France due to...blasphemy, pretty much? It's a great adventure and a really moving meditation on humanity. Seek it out, read it, share it with any kids in your life. A solid read-next for the fan of A Proud Taste fo Probably the best book I've read this year. It's sort of a medieval Fellowship of the Ring where the group is three kids (a girl & two boys, one a Jewish healer and the other a very tall, strong biracial monk) & a miracle-performing dog who find themselves on the run from the King of France due to...blasphemy, pretty much? It's a great adventure and a really moving meditation on humanity. Seek it out, read it, share it with any kids in your life. A solid read-next for the fan of A Proud Taste for Scarlet & Miniver.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aryana Parmar

    I absolutely despised this book, but I'll be nice and give it two stars. But like, I actually had reasons: When the different people at the inn were telling different parts of the story, like, there was no difference in any of them. Like, I know that's the author's style, but I felt like the same person was talking all throughout the story. Even though there were supposed to be many different narrators. So that's actually my number reason. Also, it was just really slow and boring, and I mean, I I absolutely despised this book, but I'll be nice and give it two stars. But like, I actually had reasons: When the different people at the inn were telling different parts of the story, like, there was no difference in any of them. Like, I know that's the author's style, but I felt like the same person was talking all throughout the story. Even though there were supposed to be many different narrators. So that's actually my number reason. Also, it was just really slow and boring, and I mean, I don't know. I just didn't enjoy it. At all.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    ***Based on the ARC*** A winsome tale full of humor and adventure that will leave readers asking serious questions about religion and the meaning of it all. While most young readers will not understand the menace behind the "inquisitor" in the title, they will take the word at face value. This is a tale told by asking questions. I enjoyed how the story built upon itself in layers with several starts and stops and revisions. It is as much a story about the telling of stories as it is the story its ***Based on the ARC*** A winsome tale full of humor and adventure that will leave readers asking serious questions about religion and the meaning of it all. While most young readers will not understand the menace behind the "inquisitor" in the title, they will take the word at face value. This is a tale told by asking questions. I enjoyed how the story built upon itself in layers with several starts and stops and revisions. It is as much a story about the telling of stories as it is the story itself. It is also one of the few books which seriously but respectfully questions religious belief through character debate that parallels the events in the story. But, this is not didactic in the least. Gidwitz understands his young audience and fills the tale with plenty of gore, excitement and laughs such as a dragon with farts so toxic they will incinerate a knight in his armor, based on original writings from that period. His notes at the end are fascinating, particularly when you realize how little of this tale he created himself. The book is not without flaws, such as the various narrators having such similar Gidwitz-ian voices. And the explanation of the Nun's knowledge was curt and vague, which young readers may not be able to interpret or accept. I look forward to seeing the fully-illuminated final edition of this book and will recommend it widely. My 7th grade history teachers will all be gifted with a copy of this book when it becomes available since it fits so nicely with their curriculum.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    I enjoyed Adam Gidwitz’s Grimm series. Similar to that trilogy, the idea behind The Inquisitor’s Tale is smart and creative: a medieval setting with multiple narrators and designed to resemble an illuminated manuscript. In short, I put The Inquisitor’s Tale on hold the minute my library had it listed on their catalog. So it pains me to say that child me would have hated this book, and adult me didn’t particularly enjoy it. The Inquisitor’s Tale is the sort of children’s book that will win a lot o I enjoyed Adam Gidwitz’s Grimm series. Similar to that trilogy, the idea behind The Inquisitor’s Tale is smart and creative: a medieval setting with multiple narrators and designed to resemble an illuminated manuscript. In short, I put The Inquisitor’s Tale on hold the minute my library had it listed on their catalog. So it pains me to say that child me would have hated this book, and adult me didn’t particularly enjoy it. The Inquisitor’s Tale is the sort of children’s book that will win a lot of awards, meaning a lot of children will be forced to read it. I like the message of tolerance, but conveying that message in a less preachy way would have been more effective. Also, a book having an insanely creative concept, conveying a positive message, and being based on lots of legit research does not translate into a good story. I wish awards committees would remember that when picking their favorites. Plus, the message of tolerance is undermined when one of the characters is insanely violent – well beyond reason – and that’s supposedly OK. I don’t understand the decision to apply modern ethos in some areas but not in others. I walked away thinking lesson was: “Don’t hate each other, but feel free to abuse animals if it works to your advantage.” Ok then. Not recommended.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Phil Jensen

    Hey! Wanna read the greatest children's book passage from 2016? Here it is: At last, Jacob said, “Well, you can always come with me to Saint-Denis.” William bellowed, “Saint-Denis? My ass!” Jacob and Jeanne both blinked and stared at William. “What?” “Where is my ass?” William shouted. Jacob started to giggle. “Say that again?” “Where in God’s name is my ass!?” William bellowed, standing up. “What did you do with it?” Jeanne and Jacob were both giggling now. Jeanne managed to say, “What ar Hey! Wanna read the greatest children's book passage from 2016? Here it is: At last, Jacob said, “Well, you can always come with me to Saint-Denis.” William bellowed, “Saint-Denis? My ass!” Jacob and Jeanne both blinked and stared at William. “What?” “Where is my ass?” William shouted. Jacob started to giggle. “Say that again?” “Where in God’s name is my ass!?” William bellowed, standing up. “What did you do with it?” Jeanne and Jacob were both giggling now. Jeanne managed to say, “What are you talking about?” “My donkey! Where is my donkey?” If you don't see the greatness in that, then maybe this book is not for you. And a skim of the other reviews implies that it's not for a lot of people. The greatest complaints seem to be poop jokes and violence. Maybe this is a gender thing, much like Dead End in Norvelt, because reveling in poop jokes and cartoon violence is the joy of the book. I was also impressed by Gidwitz' ability to transition from humorous episodes to serious ones, my favorite being the retelling of siege of Jerusalem. I have read in other reviews that people liked it less as it went along. I felt the opposite way. The first 80 pages were interesting but a bit forced. A low-income girl, a mixed-race child, and a Jew have origin stories that highlight the concepts of diversity and tolerance. It felt a little preachy to me. Maybe diversity preachiness is what other readers like, and they lost interest when the book shifted into high gear. For me, the whole thing came alive when the three protagonists meet and start interacting. That's also the time when the Saint-Denis quest gets started and gives the book some direction. Gidwitz blunders around in the topic of religion somewhat clumsily. He seems to be alluding to (but not quite stating) the concept of omnism, which is that all gods are basically the same and you might as well worship one as another. This concept has been around for centuries, but it has never gained traction because it offends more observant, doctrine-oriented people. In an attempt to please everyone, it pleases no one. On the other hand, I appreciate its attempt to answer the question, "If God is all-powerful, then why do bad things happen?" In spite of its flaws, I encourage people to give this book a shot. I even suggest they give it 100 pages before throwing it at a wall. It's fun and interesting.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Clay

    I wish Goodreads had a "Currently Listening" button. Borrow some of the narrative structure & settings of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, add some medieval fairy tale elements and an out-of-time Joan of Arc-type girl, a Jewish boy, and a young African monk and a resurrected dog who form a band dodging pogroms, anti-Semites, witch hunters and book burners; toss in a tragicomic cameo from a deadly farting dragon and you get the gist of the Inquisitor's Tale. There was bit too much religion for me (and I wish Goodreads had a "Currently Listening" button. Borrow some of the narrative structure & settings of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, add some medieval fairy tale elements and an out-of-time Joan of Arc-type girl, a Jewish boy, and a young African monk and a resurrected dog who form a band dodging pogroms, anti-Semites, witch hunters and book burners; toss in a tragicomic cameo from a deadly farting dragon and you get the gist of the Inquisitor's Tale. There was bit too much religion for me (and I like reading about religion), too little dog, and the story goes long about 2/3s through, but it's an interesting meditation on the times of the story and--if readers are prone or prodded to think about it--our own times as well. Probably more a classroom than an under-the-covers-after-lights out book, though. Nicely done audio by an ensemble cast.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Xia

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A great book that everyone should read. The Inquisitor's Tale is a truly amazing story. I especially liked the way the author told the story. It was told by the characters inside the story which is really interesting. One of the finest books that I have ever read, The Inquisitor's Tale will keep you reading until the end.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Yapha

    Set in France in 1242 and told in the style of Medieval travel tales, The Inquisitor's Tale follows three children who are either heretics or saints, depending on how one views their accomplishments. Jeanne, a peasant girl, has "fits" and sees visions of the future. William, son of an African mother and French crusader father, is both exceptionally bright as well as big and strong. Jacob, a Jewish boy, can heal with plants and prayers. Along with the saintly dog Gwenforte, these three children t Set in France in 1242 and told in the style of Medieval travel tales, The Inquisitor's Tale follows three children who are either heretics or saints, depending on how one views their accomplishments. Jeanne, a peasant girl, has "fits" and sees visions of the future. William, son of an African mother and French crusader father, is both exceptionally bright as well as big and strong. Jacob, a Jewish boy, can heal with plants and prayers. Along with the saintly dog Gwenforte, these three children travel across France. At first they are running for their lives, later on they are trying to save the wisdom of the ages. This brilliant story is both action-packed and introspective, making readers consider their lives and biases today through the lense of the Middle Ages. Highly recommended for grades 5 and up. It includes an excellent Author's Note as well, explaining which bits are actual history. ARC provided by publisher.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Billie

    Adam Gidwitz is the Christopher Moore of Middle Grade fiction. Not the Moore of The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove or Bloodsucking Fiends, but the Moore of Lamb and Fool—funny, irreverent, not above a good fart joke, and way more intelligent than you would gather from a casual read. The Inquisitor's Tale is maybe not as broadly humorous as his Grimm tales (though it is certainly not lacking in humor) nor is it as meta-fictional (though the narrator does inject himself into the story). It is, ins Adam Gidwitz is the Christopher Moore of Middle Grade fiction. Not the Moore of The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove or Bloodsucking Fiends, but the Moore of Lamb and Fool—funny, irreverent, not above a good fart joke, and way more intelligent than you would gather from a casual read. The Inquisitor's Tale is maybe not as broadly humorous as his Grimm tales (though it is certainly not lacking in humor) nor is it as meta-fictional (though the narrator does inject himself into the story). It is, instead, much more philosophical and delves into matters of faith and friendship and morality and mortality. Gidwitz never shies away from the darker, more brutal aspects of humanity, but they are deftly balanced with grace and beauty and innocence. This is a book both sacred and profane; it will make you laugh and think and probably cry a little. It is a reading experience well worth having and may even make you believe in miracles.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Czechgirl

    I am sorry so Mr. Gidwitz. I did not care for this book. I got bored of it after William left the monastery. There were a few times it got interesting hear and there, but there were many times I wanted to abandoned the book, but held on to the end because everybody and I mean everybody is loving this book. Why two stars? If I am going to abandon a book so many times, why did I not rate it one star? I can appreciate the researched history, the rich vocabulary and the writing, but it took me so lo I am sorry so Mr. Gidwitz. I did not care for this book. I got bored of it after William left the monastery. There were a few times it got interesting hear and there, but there were many times I wanted to abandoned the book, but held on to the end because everybody and I mean everybody is loving this book. Why two stars? If I am going to abandon a book so many times, why did I not rate it one star? I can appreciate the researched history, the rich vocabulary and the writing, but it took me so long to finish this book--3 weeks. I didn't ever want to just pick it up and read it. Why not three stars? I can't imagine it holding any of my fifth graders' attention.

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