A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Inquisitor's Tale, by Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark and Grimm), won a 2017 Newbery Honor. Gidwitz spent years researching the underlying medieval history of this a brilliant, funny, poignant celebration of love, learning, and the love of learning. Lots of terrible things happen: Villages are torched, parents murdered, people burned to death, knights and horses swallowed by quicksand, and three innocent tweens are in constant danger of death from the forces of authority. Then there's the book-burning by France's King Louis IX, who may have been a saint but was also quite the anti-Semite. And the Holy Dog, venerated after her unjust killing when she saved a baby from a snake, is now mysteriously returned from the dead. It's a lot to take in, but Gidwitz is a masterful storyteller who tugs at your heartstrings, tickles your funny bone, and teaches you something new on practically every page.
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What's the story?
As THE INQUISITOR'S TALE begins, it's 1242, and the Inquisition, supported by King Louis IX of France, is hard at work persecuting heretics, infidels, and pretty much anybody who looks or acts unusual. In the countryside, one of the inquisitors is hot on the trail of three kids who are definitely unusual. Eleven-year-old huge and dark-skinned William, son of a French lord and his North African lover, is a young monk with unusual strength. Peasant girl Jeanne, probably a bit younger, sees the future when she has seizures. Jacob, a Jewish boy about the same age, is able to miraculously cure injuries and illness with herbs and prayer. Then there's Gwenforte the greyhound, unjustly killed after saving baby Jeanne from a snake, revered by the peasants, and mysteriously returned from the dead. As travelers gather in a wayside inn, they take turns telling the kids' story -- which is about to get even more dramatic.
Is it any good?
Master storyteller Adam Gidwitz outdoes himself in this poignant, funny story of three tweens and a saintly greyhound, all with unusual powers, trying to avoid their persecutors in medieval France. The characters in The Inquisitor's Tale are irresistible. Their adventures and the people they meet bring thrills and thought-provoking questions. In the tradition of medieval manuscripts, illustrator Hatem Aly's page embellishments provide a running commentary on the events in the text.
Offering much insight into daily life and burning issues during one of Europe's most complex, exciting periods, The Inquisitor's Tale is a real gem -- and one adults as well as kids won't want to miss.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Inquisition and the whole idea of persecuting people for their religious beliefs, as shown in The Inquisitor's Tale. Why do you think this happened back in the Middle Ages? Do you think it still happens today? If so, what might be some examples?
The Inquisitor's Tale features a storytelling style that was popular in the Middle Ages, one where travelers from all walks of life come together and tell their tales. Do you know any other examples of this genre?
Do these characters and their adventures make you want to learn more about the people and events in the Middle Ages? What do you think you'd like to investigate further? Do you think the books listed at the end of The Inquisitor's Tale might help?
- Author: Adam Gidwitz
- Illustrator: Hatem Aly
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Dutton Books
- Publication date: September 27, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 12
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: Newbery Medal and Honors
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