by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
School Library Journal Gr 4-6-Boy is the village outcast. A hunchbacked orphan with a mysterious past and a knack for talking to animals, he's faced more than his share of abuse and mockery from those around him. Enter Secundus, a strange pilgrim impressed with Boy's climbing and jumping skills. Secundus pulls Boy into a journey across Europe to gather the seven relics of Saint Peter. The journey, however, is not as innocent as Boy first assumes. Instead, they're stealing relics, making enemies, and facing peril all the way to Rome. Set in the year 1350, this is a medieval tale that blends historical fiction with magical realism. Readers will enjoy the adventures of Boy and Secundus, rife with twists that give the story more depth than a straightforward historical novel. Boy is an admirable protagonist who deals with his differences with a mix of acceptance and self-consciousness. Secundus, too, is a character that has more depth to him than meets the eye. While the peril may seem light to some, younger readers will get a thrill with every narrow escape. The book is easy to read with clear prose, short chapters, and illustrations scattered throughout. VERDICT A good recommendation for readers not quite ready for Adam Gidwitz's The Inquisitor's Tale or for those who enjoyed Karen Cushman's Catherine, Called Birdy but crave a bit more magic.-Paige Garrison, The Davis Academy, Sandy Springs, GA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list *Starred Review* It is 1350, the pope has fled from Rome to France, plague has ravished Europe, and Boy is sitting in an apple tree when a mysterious traveler approaches. So begins the marvelously rich tale of Boy, who has a secret; Secundus, who has many secrets; and the journey they undertake to find seven relics: rib, tooth, thumb, toe, dust, skull, and tomb. Murdock uses the conventions of the pilgrim's journey and adds enticing details that will draw in a young audience. Boy, an orphan and servant in a manor house, was told by the village priest he is a miracle, but he doesn't feel like one. He has a hump on his back, which makes him an object of derision, and he must hide his ability to speak with and understand animals. Secundus, meanwhile, is a man of mystery who stinks of brimstone, but as he warms to Boy, he also exhibits kindness and loyalty. Their epic adventures take them to Rome, where Secundus is determined to present his relics at the tomb of St. Peter. Scuffles and sacrifices, ferocious animals, and dastardly thieves abound as Boy and Secundus are slowly revealed to readers and each other. This is also a beautiful piece of bookmaking, from the woodblock-style design elements to the manuscript-like paper. A vivid, not-to-be-missed story, part The Inquisitor's Tale (2016), part Skellig (1998), but wholly its own.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2018 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.