The Trumpeter of Krakow
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The Trumpeter of Krakow

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  3,153 ratings  ·  163 reviews
A dramatic tale of 15th century Poland, it tells the story of a courageous young patriot and a mysterious jewel of great value. The beautifully written book, filled with adventure and excitement, gives young readers a vivid picture of Krakow in the early Renaissance."--The Horn Book. 20 illustrations.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 1st 1992 by Aladdin (first published 1928)
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The Giver by Lois LowryHoles by Louis SacharA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleNumber the Stars by Lois LowryBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The Most Deserving Newbery
64th out of 93 books — 1,919 voters
The Giver by Lois LowryA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleHoles by Louis SacharNumber the Stars by Lois LowryBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Newbery Medal Winner Books
83rd out of 92 books — 235 voters

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The 1929 Newbery winner, this novel is set in Poland, 1461. Joseph Charnetski, a fifteen-year-old, travels with his family to Krakow after their home and fields in the Ukraine were destroyed. The family befriends a wise scholar and goes to live in the house of an alchemist and his daughter. Joseph becomes a watchman in the Church of Our Lady Mary. In the tower there, he plays on the hour the Heynal, a theme that is traditionally broken off in mid-note out of respect for a brave Polish lad who wa...more
This is definitely better than the last few Newbery books (1922-1928), and honestly, I really wanted to like it, given my SIL's birthplace (Poland). But I guess the whole alchemy thing took so much away from the story where I was loving the people and the descriptions and pronouncing "Elzbietka" in my head that it made me not like it much. And of course, again I'm thinking of junior highers reading this and going, "HUH?!"

It's so odd to me that there I was, going along reading a story about a fam...more
Meagan Castor
Mystery, honor, love, greed, protection, sacrifice and good verses evil are all incites into the heart of The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly. This book takes place around 200 years after the Tartar invasion of Krakow in 1241 and is centered around the honor of one young man who gave his life because of an oath and his love for his country and the church while playing the Heynal amidst the terror of war. Much importance is placed on the fact that the young man died while playing the Heynal...more
I must admit that I am very proud to be 100% Polish-American, and that my daughters are the same.

That fact, plus the very strong characters, inspiring passages, and its 1929 copyright moved a possible four-star rating to five. This is excellent young-adult historical fiction for any era. An action-packed adventure book based on a true story, "The Trumpeter" inspires today with its examples of courage, wisdom, and fidelity to promises made.

When you read the book, be sure it's the edition that beg...more
I'm not sure I could recommend this to any but the most earnest of children but I did enjoy reading this winner of the 1929 Newbery Award. The story takes place in medieval Krakow, and blends history with the fantastical story of a philosopher's stone and the family dedicated to its care. It's told with just the right amount of tension but perhaps too much detail for the modern reader.
Adventure…kings…alchemists…heroes…castles…villains…treasure…What more could a kid want in a story?

The book centers on a family who has come to Krakow having lost everything to marauders seeking an ancient treasure said to be in the family’s possession. A classic story of adventure.

This one is an older Newbery classic about Polish medieval history. I liked it OK. I didn't find myself really wanting to reach for it, and yet, it was an interesting topic. I learned a few things. Two stars may seem a bit harsh, but this one just didn't grab me.
Dec 31, 2013 Debbie added it
85 1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly (Macmillan)

9/20/2013 242 pages

from Wikipedia: The Trumpeter of Krakow, a young adult historical novel by Eric P. Kelly, won the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature in 1929. Centered around the historical fire that burned much of Kraków in 1462, The Trumpeter of Krakow tells the fictional story of a family of Joseph Charnetski,[1] a Polish noble family from Kresy (modern day Ukraine), who fled to Kraków, Poland, in 1461...more
Interesting novel so far, but I am noting some pretty giant historical inaccuracies.

Phil Jensen
Just to clear up the genre question: This is tightly researched historical fiction. Although one of the characters is an alchemist, there are no fantasy elements. There were actual "alchemists" in medieval Europe, trying the types of experiments described in the book.

As far as the book itself- it's pretty good. The characters and plotting are ahead of their time (1928), but the pacing is still choppier than most post-1960 children's books. Kelly gets something going for a few chapters, then lets...more
Nov 22, 2012 Bhg rated it 1 of 5 stars Recommends it for: any Polish person you particularly dislike.

Louise Seaman Bechtel introduction begins with condescension and ignorance in her introduction but it suits what follows. If the words Ugly American mean anything to you, let's skip what she actually wrote and describe it thusly.

Kellly claims to love the Poles but if so why mislead Americans about the country's history? The University of Krakow was the first to have a chair in Astronomy - in 1400! See Grazyna Rosinska's article in

Cheryl Gatling
When this book was published in 1928, children loved it so much that library copy after copy was worn to shreds. So says the foreward to this edition. Today's children may have a harder time getting into it, as the language is sometimes dense to the point of being archaic. (The Tartar invaders as described in the first chapter: "Brave they were as lions, courageous they were as great dogs, but they had hearts of stone and knew not mercy, nor pity, nor tenderness, nor God.") But this is an advent...more
Aimee Conner
Oh, I liked this book, too. It had a young hero I could follow, the plot was just complicated enough, good guys, bad guys, a beautiful girl (who was just a wee bit of a feminist) and a satisfactory ending. Something to get lost in.

It’s a work of fiction leading up to an actual fire that destroyed much of Krakow in 1462. The trumpeters of Krakow, from the title, trumpet the hour with a traditional piece of music, from the spire of a church every hour, on the hour. The melody is unfinished at the...more
This book received the Newberry Award for best children's book in 1928. I received this book as a gift in 1978. I had no interest in it at the time. It was about a boy...ick! But I had a feeling I'd want to read it someday so I've kept it all these years. And finally with a trip to Krakow on the horizon, I felt it was finally time to read it. I'm kind of glad I waited because I really enjoyed it now but would have probably hated it when I was a young girl. Because boys....icky! LOL! Anyway this...more

For centuries ambitious, ruthless and scholarly men have sought special stones (in this case, the Great Tarnov Crystal) to help them achieve fantastic wealth, limitless power or hidden knowledge of things Past, Present and Future. Monarchs naturally will pay any price to possess such "scientific" objects. Thus, unscrupulous criminals exercise horrendous brutality in order to gain possession of the miraculous crystal--reverently described as...more
Another Newbery winner that I lost interest in a third of the way through.

"So it has always been in time of war that the innocent suffer most--these poor, helpless peasants with their carts and horses and geese and sheep trudging along through the dust to escape, if God so willed, the terrible fate which would befall them were they left behind."

"In those days when the world was just emerging from a period of darkness and cruelty, it was a necessity that each man should be constantly upon his gua...more
The Trumpeter of Krakow is a Newberry Award-winning novel from the 1920s. I have been trying to read some of the Newberry Award winners that I did not read as a child in anticipation of the not-too-distant future when my children will be ready to read them. This novel was my favorite so far, for several reasons. First, the novel was set in medieval Poland. I think this is the first book I've ever read that is set in Poland in any era except WWII, and the descriptions of the medieval city of Krak...more
There are a few things I really liked about reading this book, one of which has nothing at all to do with the book itself and which really only served to increase my inclination to like the story before I'd even cracked the cover:

1. I've been to Poland 5 times and have been to Krakow on multiple occasions. I love reading books set in a country that has become so familiar to me. (And I love knowing how to pronounce the names of people and places.)
2. It was inspired by a historical event that is s...more
Oh boy, I'm at a loss for what to rate this book. I read the first two chapters and decided it was boring, so since I had other books, I set it aside for a few weeks. Now that I've had no other books to read I picked it up again. Thankfully the story gets better as you read. I actually really did enjoy the book. It was a very clever and exciting story. The only thing keeping me from giving it four stars is the fact that I'm not the biggest fan of very descriptive writing. And This book didn't re...more
When I was in 5th grade I aspired to reading every single Newberry Medal winner. I never succeeded, but I'm pretty sure I beat out everyone else in my class. The Trumpeter of Krakow has been on my list for years; I never knew what it was about, but the title was always mysterious and intriguing to me.

Set in 1462 Poland, it follows the story of a boy and his family who are refugees from the Ukraine following destruction of their home by Tartars in search of a rumored treasure kept hidden for gene...more
I picked this book up at the library for two reasons-first, it won a Newbery Medal, and second, the story takes place in medieval Poland and knowing next to nothing of Poland I was intrigued.

The story was good. The Charnetski family has taken an oath to protect a crystal that is believed to have magical powers and despite the hardships and evils that befalls upon them because of this jewel they stay true to the promise they have made. The writing style was a little different, maybe a little old...more
Bob Redmond
I read this book as a kid, and because my wife is of Polish descent, and because our wedding reception was at a Polish cultural center, I thought I'd read it again. I finished it in Havana (which is simultaneously frozen in 1972, 1959, 1875, and 1600), which only added to the pungency of the reading _experience_ if not the book itself.

The book itself: the Newberry-Award winning medalist of 1928, written by a Polish expatriate in New York. It's set in Poland in the 15th century (albeit with a lat...more
Adriane Devries
In this historical Newberry award winner of 1929, alchemy, magic, loyalty, heroism—and trumpeting—vie for the fate of this once peaceful medieval Polish city. The Charnetski family has fled to the city of Krakow after a hired Russian bandit, Peter of the Button Face, burns their country village to find the famous Tarnov Crystal, reputed to be in their possession. Though Peter pursues them to the great city, they enjoy a time of relative safety and companionship with powerful new friends who find...more
Carl Nelson
1929 Newbery Medal recipient.

4.5 stars. A satisfying, readable tale of bravery, honor, treachery, and suspense that paints a rich picture of late medieval/early renaissance Krakow. The characters are memorable, and the tradition of the trumpeter playing the Hejnał on the hour, and the broken note, is well-used in the author's mix of history, tradition, and fiction. A very good tale well told.
My very favorite historical fiction novels introduce me to people, places, and times that I really nothing about. This Newberry Award winner was set in Medieval Krakow, Poland. The story was fascinating! The focus of the story seems to be about determining those things that truly are of the most value in life...most important is honor, family, and friendship and scholarship whose main goal is to benefit society as a whole and not for personal gain. I wanted to know something about what the Heyna...more
Ruth E.
1929 Newbery winner - author/illustrator Eric P. Kelly/Janina Domanska - the Great Tarnov Crystal is in the care of the Charnetski family in the Ukraine. He has it hidden in a pumpkin which a servant discovered and told the Tartars, who tried to get it back. The family goes to Krakow where the father & the son become the trumpeters of the time in Church of Our Lady Mary. In the end the crystal is thrown in the river. The king gives the family money to restore their Ukraine home and Joseph ma...more
Serviceable Newberry Medal winner from the 40's, THE TRUMPETER OF KRAKOW has a nice opening chapter detailing the origins of a Krakow tradition (the broken note of the trumpeter's Heynal in the tower of the Church of St. Mary), but then meanders through around 30 pp. of exposition before picking up. Once you hit p. 40 or so, you have an excellent standard villain, a half Tartar, half Cossack named Bogdan, and an adventure of a valuable crystal and a mad alchemist. The book provides some Polish h...more
I found this in the Children's Library...a story set in 15th century Poland about a boy whose family has been safeguarding, for generations, a valuable crystal. The writing style, vocabulary and references to history are such that I think this should be an adult book. At first I thought it was going to be a simple good versus evil story, but after a couple of chapters I was intrigued with the setting in Krakow and the intricate story woven around the call of the trumpet as a warning signal as we...more
The Charnetski family escapes to Krakow after their home is attacked by Tartars, bringing with them their family heirloom--a pumpkin (okay, the actual heirloom may be hidden inside). They find a home with the help of a local scholar, and essentially adopt the girl who lives upstairs with her uncle when he becomes fixated on the study of alchemy. This book definitely has the most interesting plot of all the Newbery Medal winners so far, but everything that happens in the book is just too convenie...more
I was instantly captured with this book's intro, and I think if the author had continued with that string of thought (the trumpeter and the broken note) it could have been a wonderful story. But this author instead went another direction, towards magic, romance, diplomats, it was all just too confusing and unneccesary. The epilogue as well was capturing, but that's all I really have to say for the book. It was boring throughout the bulk of the story and the author took too many turns from the or...more
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Children's Books: Winner & Honors from 1929 8 64 Dec 08, 2013 02:30PM  
Professional Review 1 2 Dec 07, 2013 10:35PM  
Newbery Books: July/August 2013 Read - The Trumpeter of Krakow 3 15 Sep 26, 2013 02:37PM  
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Eric P. Kelly, a student of Slavic culture for most of his life, wrote The Trumpeter of Krakow while teaching and studying at the University of Krakow. During five years spent in Poland he traveled with an American relief unit among the Poles who were driven out of the Ukraine in 1920, directed a supply train at the time of the war with the Soviets, and studied and visited many places in the count...more
More about Eric P. Kelly...
The Golden Star of Halich: A Tale of the Red Land in 1362 At the Sign of the Golden Compass - A Tale of the Printing House of Christopher Plantin in Antwerp, 1576 A Girl Who Would Be Queen: The Story and the Diary of the Young Countess Krasinska THE TRUMPETER OF KRAKOW. A TALE OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY. The Christmas Nightingale: Christmas Stories of Poland

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