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Crispin: The Cross of Lead

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

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 32 reviews

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 byNarci February 19, 2011
I think the themes of this book are something children relate to. The idea of a poverty gap is all to present in America today, as are single parent families. I... Continue reading
Adult Written byshadow44 April 9, 2008


This one of the most amazing i've ever read i don't know wat that 11 year old was thinking but it certainently wasn't a bad book once i bought it... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old September 27, 2009

Loved this book sooo much!

I had to read it for school, and I thought it was torture at first but towards the middle and end it was great!!! There was some violence that kinda creeped me... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byRuizluv1124 April 15, 2009

a great book for history projects

in the 1400s yes not 1300s a boy named Asta's son is all this boy has been called and when his mother dies ( the only family he has left) he son after gets... 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

For kids who love history

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