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Crispin (Crispin #1)

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  18,654 Ratings  ·  1,695 Reviews
Set in 14th-century England, Avi's (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle) 50th book begins with a funeral, that of a village outcast whose past is shrouded in mystery and whose adolescent son is known only as "Asta's son." Mired in grief for his mother, the boy learns his given name, Crispin, from the village priest, although his presumably dead father's identity remain ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 1st 2003 by Hyperion Books for Children (first published 2002)
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Jun 17, 2009 Greg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-for-kids
AVI2.0 Review: With warnings, gender changes, and a post script!

I just dawned on me that the stupid plot revealing subtitle is there because Avi means for this book to be the start of a series, and a quick check shows that there is a sequel.

Avi has a unique skill at flattening characters. Everyone pretty much sounds the same as every other character. ShHe also has a knack of making herhis characters unlikable. Not in the I hate them sort of way, but in the why do I give a (If you are under the
Jul 22, 2009 karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mark-harmon
i didnt hate it as much as greg did, but i know what he means about it being a little flat. i probably would have enjoyed this as maybe an 8 year old. is that too old - i dont remember what i was doing at 8, except i had unfortunate teeth. im not going to run right out and get the sequel to this or anything, but its a perfectly serviceable medieval tale of secret origins and poverty and swords.
Mar 05, 2008 Sandi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My sixth grade son made me read "Crispin: The Cross of Lead". He's a really advanced reader, but it's hard to get him involved in books. He'd rather play World of Warcraft or play his guitar. He couldn't put this book down and insisted that I read it.

I was surprised at the content of the book. Crispin is the bastard son of an outcast peasant woman who never shows him any affection. He doesn't even know his name until after his mother dies. The revelation of his name leads to the murder of the vi
Maggie Maxfield
I know this is an award-winning book. Avi's historical fiction is exceptional -- even the metaphor and imagery in the book employ phrases consistent with the times. I feel when I read his historical fiction like I can connect all the historical dots. However, I got the feeling that some of Crispin's actions were not consistent with his character, and that Avi had him do them just to advance the plot. And that annoys me. For example, Crispin is painted as an ignorant kid who learns about his plac ...more
Sep 28, 2013 Ensiform rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Winner of the 2003 Newbery, this historical novel is set in England, 1377. Crispin, an orphan peasant, is told by his village priest that there is a secret regarding his birth. But after stumbling upon the cruel village steward making a secret plan in the woods, Crispin is declared a “wolf’s head” – a non-person whom anyone may kill for a reward – and he is forced to flee. He comes upon Bear, a jester who secretly works to bring a worker’s revolution to England, and together they travel to the “ ...more
“Asta’s Son,” as he is called, is left to his own devices when his mother dies in 1377 in the tiny, poor English village of Stromford. He doesn’t have a family and knows nothing of his father. All his mother leaves him is a cross of lead that he carries with him as he flees his village when declared a “wolf’s head”—a person who can be killed on sight—for allegedly committing a crime. His priest, the one person he trusts, is murdered after trying to help and telling Asta’s Son his real name (whic ...more
Sarah Sammis
Mar 11, 2008 Sarah Sammis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Avi's books seem to be span all genres, the only thing that unites them is the intended audience, tweens. Crispin is somewhere in the range of fantasy and historical fiction, taking place in medieval Europe around the time of the plague. The story cover's Crispin's quest to learn the truth behind his birth after his mother's death.

While the book had it's moments, it didn't capture my imagination like Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? The book borrows heavily on the fantasy genre conventions and relies
Apr 14, 2010 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
One of my good friends recommended this series to me and I was in the mood for a change of pace in what I was reading so I gave it a try. I thought this was well done middle grade historical fiction. I've read several other books by Avi and enjoy his writing. I felt like I learned a few things and was entertained along the way.

Overall a good book I would recommend to those who enjoy Historical Fiction.

Content: Clean
I think I would have liked this a lot as a middle-grade reader. It was still all right - I liked the time setting and the characters.
NSAndrew Liebergen
The Cross of Lead is a very interesting book. I liked it, but I don’t know if it is for everyone. It is kind of a tired story line about being accused of a crime he didn’t commit, reminded me of the fugitive. His arch-enemy is John Aycliffe, who for some reason does not like Crispin. I found the English phrases interesting, such as the term Wolf’s Head, meaning that anyone who sees the boy can kill him. There is some mild violence of Father Quinel having is throat slashed while helping Crispin e ...more
Feb 25, 2009 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! Set in the 14th Century. Historical fiction at it's best. Great bits of wisdom. "Music is the tongue of souls" "The only difference between a dead fool and a live one is the dead one has a deeper grave". He is a great author and I am looking forward to reading more of his work. Our children could learn many lessons from this book as can we. I started this book yesterday afternoon while I was waiting at the DMV and finished it this morning. Could not put it down, and I will think about ...more
Jul 08, 2013 Qt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was fast-paced and full of historical details; I found myself reading several chapters at a time and was really interested by it.
Mar 25, 2015 Jenna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really liked this book!! Amazing story and good lesson.
Mar 25, 2017 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 2003 Newbery Medal winner that is set in fourteenth-century England and is about an orphaned who is falsely accused of several crimes. This is first book in a trilogy about Crispin. Avi is a skillful storyteller and does a great job at capturing this time period.
I'd like to give this Newberry winner by Avi 3.5 stars but that's not an option. So, when forced to choose, I'll go with three. This is Avi's 50th book (amazing!) and is historical fiction based on research. Avi did research into the time period and one of the characters, John Ball, is based on a real person. At the end of the book Avi explains his interest in the period began in college when he read about the Peasants' Rebellion and a series of lectures he attended on the late Middle Ages. This ...more
Rebecca Radnor
A mystery/coming of age story. A real page turner. I started reading it at midnight and next thing I knew it was 4am and I'd completely killed my sleep patterns. Really interesting story about a boy who is a serf, who is blamed by his Steward for crimes he did not commit -- apparently as an excuse to legally kill him. The boy runs away, meets a roving entertainer who will helps him (takes him on as his apprentice). The man, who at first doubts the boys story, but when it become clear that Stewar ...more
Dec 18, 2010 Zemkat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery
I read this book as part of my quest to read all of the Newbery books. This was not one of the betters ones.

I can't believe how little happened in this book. It was so slow. There was (at least) one chapter about standing helplessly in the forest for a day, waiting until nighttime so that the plot could move forward. Another chapter about eating lunch. Another about packing up lunch to continue hiking.

I didn't like any of the characters. The protagonist goes from frustratingly obedient to frustr
Nov 20, 2016 Hadley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crispin was born a peasant in medieval England. The book opens with his mother dying and having never known his father, Crispin is an orphan at thirteen years old. In a strange turn of events, Crispin is accused of a crime he didn't commit and must flee his village to escape death. On his own and away from home for the first time, he sees new things, meets new people, and learns new skills. Crispin learns about the world through his new friend Bear, a juggler. However, they are constantly on ale ...more
Jun 04, 2014 Nick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Crispin by Avi is a thrilling book about a young 13 year old boy who lives in a small village called Stromford. Crispin is wanted all across the land because he was accused of theft. Crispin and his companion Bear embark on a journey to the palace where they hope to find a place to stay and find out who Crispins father is. I first read this book a long time ago and I really enjoyed it from what I remembered but I decided to read it again and it was even better then the first time I read it. Cris ...more
Dec 18, 2013 D.C. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love action stories and medieval tales
This is definitely a page-turner. It is mind-bogglingly well-written, impossibly riveting, and well-plotted. However, I did have a couple problems with this that kept it from venturing beyond 3-star range. First of all, I really did not like the choice to put this book in first person at all (and that's unusual, considering a third person narrative is sometimes actually enough to automatically subtract a star off a review). We could still get access to Crispin's deepest thoughts and worries with ...more
Sarah Rosenberger
The boy everyone called "Asta's Son" lived with his outcast mother in a poor English village during the middle ages. For thirteen years, his life consisted of little more than praying, going to church, and trying not to starve, but when he is accused of a crime he didn't commit and forced to flee from his town, he quickly learns there is much more to the world than he ever dreamed...

I didn't love this, and am surprised it won the Newbery Award. The details were good, but authors like Tamora Pier
Crispin's mother dies, and the steward of his feudal village suddenly declares him a thief, even though he's done nothing wrong, and a "wolf's head," which essentially means that a price is on his head. From there, Crispin is on the run, but he doesn't know why, or how he will survive in the world.

I didn't really like this one, which is strange, because I've loved Avi's other historical fiction titles (I read True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle about a thousand times as a kid), and because this
Edit Ostrom
What a great children's book! Although a fair warning: since it takes place in the Middle Ages, it has some historically appropriate, gruesome violence. The author does not dwell on it, but it's there. In spite of this, I would recommend the book for boys in middle grades, if they like adventure and history. Added to Catherine Called Birdie and Midwife's Apprentice, this book is a valuable addition to the Middle Ages historical fiction segment.

I really liked how the author created a language th
Krishna C.
The novel, "Crispin: The Cross of Lead," is about a young boy known as Asta's son, about the age of 13, who lived with his mother in the small village of Stromford. He did not have any idea of his father's identity, but was described as a man of no honor. His mother dies in the first chapter, and he is declared a "wolf's head" for stealing money. This is the main conflict of the book, and begins Crispin's story.
I found the novel to be very, very realistic in its ways, adding in religious terms t
Set in 14th century England not long after the Black Death cut the European population nearly in half, this book follows the story of an orphaned peasant boy known only as Asta’s Son. After his mother dies, Asta’s Son learns from the village priest that he has a name, Crispin, and a heritage that has the manor steward wanting to kill him. After barely escaping, Crispin meets a man called Bear (a traveling actor) and sets off for places unknown with him. Along the way he begins to claim an identi ...more
Jill Williamson
Review by Jill Williamson

Asta’s son has never had a name. But now that his mother has died, a priest tells him his name is Crispin. Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Crispin flees his village home. On his journey he meets a juggler named Bear, who teaches him the ways of entertaining, self defense, and snaring rabbits. At first Crispin is afraid of Bear, but the man takes care of him and teaches him to think for himself.

Crispin’s enemies continue to pursue him. Crispin wonders why they are so
Salim Lahlou
Jan 28, 2015 Salim Lahlou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Would you like to read one of the best books ever ? Then keep on reading.The one who created Crispin is Avi which is a good author.Crispin lost his mother and father.He was so sad.One day three man wanted to chase Crispin but he escaped and found himself in a forest.It was night and he climbed on a tree and spend a night there.The day after he saw an old man.

When I read the book first it was boring but when I read more than five pages I started loving it and wanted to read more. It was boring b
Nov 09, 2011 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this one from the library because of a rave review from a Goodreads friend. I certainly agree with her assessment, my only reservation (if it really is one) is that it's written for people who are the same age as the narrator (13 years). But it was a wonder-filled portrayal of a young boy's journey away from his tiny village to become aware, for the first time, of the wide world. Very melodramatic and full of cliff-hangers and hair-breadth escapes. But also full of genuine amazement in the ...more
This book was not one of my favorites. I thought it was written well enough, with an interesting story line and idea, but I don't think it was quite good enough to win the Newbery award, especially after reading some of the books that earned an honor for that year- books that were written far better, and dealt with bigger issues in better ways than this book. I don't have anything in particular against this book other than not being overly impressed with it, but I almost feel that they gave Avi ...more
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dialogue 2 2 Dec 06, 2015 10:55AM  
Why would people blame Crispin for murder? 2 7 Oct 29, 2014 08:57PM  
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Avi is a pen name for Edward Irving Wortis, but he says, "The fact is, Avi is the only name I use." Born in 1937, Avi has created many fictional favorites such as The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Nothing but the Truth, and the Crispin series. His work is popular among readers young and old.
More about Avi...

Other Books in the Series

Crispin (3 books)
  • At the Edge of the World (Crispin, #2)
  • The End of Time (Crispin, #3)

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“I kept asking myself if I felt different, if I was different. The answer was always yes. I was no longer nothing…
How odd, I thought; it had taken my mother’s death, Father Quinel’s murder, and the desire of others to kill me to claim a life of my own.”
“Do you ever smile, boy?" he demanded. "If you can't laugh and smile, life is worthless. Do you hear me?" he yelled. "It's NOTHING!” 1 likes
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