Crispin: The Cross of Lead

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Crispin: The Cross of Lead Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Start of an exciting medieval adventures series.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 36 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.


A priest's throat is slit, a hung man is described, a bear is tortured, and a man is impaled.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Men drinking in a pub.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a darker view of Middle Ages serfdom than one usually encounters.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBluffette November 25, 2015

Great read!

I loved this book it was a great read. You have to understand its very violent it includes a man being impaled and bleeding to death bear is badly in... Continue reading
Adult Written byTBalcom February 28, 2019

loved this book!!!

AVI is such a good writer! he pulls you into the story of crispin making you feel like you're actually standing in the forest along with crispin and bear.... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySpenfifn January 31, 2016
This book sucks it has no suspense and plot twists at all
Teen, 14 years old Written byAllegraChanton September 17, 2019


EllaGracie says it best. You should read her review. This book is horrible, and this is coming from a ravenous reader. It's boring, stupid, and everyone at... Continue reading

What's the story?

In 1300s England, the night after Crispin's mother dies, he overhears a conversation between John Aycliffe, steward of the manor, and a stranger. Suddenly he finds himself hunted, accused of theft. When the priest who tries to help him turns up dead, Crispin is also accused of murder. Fleeing the village in which he has spent his entire life, he takes up with a wandering juggler called Bear.

Still pursued by Aycliffe and his men, they try to lose themselves in a large town, Great Wexly, where Bear has secret plans to meet with the revolutionary, John Ball. Crispin is thrilled just to see such a big town. But there is more to his past than he knows, and a much bigger reason why Aycliffe is so determined to kill him.

Is it any good?

There's a lot here to keep young readers enthralled. The plot is an exciting adventure, with a gritty edge just violent enough to keep the pages turning. The details of the medieval setting are fascinating, and offer a picture of peasant life much more grim than most other books set in this time period.

Crispin is an appealing character, and Bear even more so, and Crispin's progress in learning from Bear to be a juggler and musician is very satisfying. There are mysteries and suspense and plot twists, though alert readers will solve the major mystery long before Crispin does. One odd omission is that there's no Author's Note to explain the historical background, and a map would have been nice as well.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what life was really like for peasants, and what John Ball tried to do about it.

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

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