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The Trumpeter of Krakow

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  5,261 Ratings  ·  260 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
63rd out of 95 books — 2,527 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
79th out of 95 books — 300 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 11, 2012 Ensiform rated it really liked it
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
Colby Sharp
Mar 07, 2012 Colby Sharp rated it it was ok
I have no idea why I'm giving this book 2 stars instead of 1. I think mostly because I'm giving myself a bonus star because I finished it in one sitting.
Jan 04, 2015 Karin rated it really liked it

I loved reading about a Krakow that was thriving and a center if education, culture and civilization. My kids were skeptical of this one and the readingg level was too hard for my daughter when we started, but as I decided to read-aloud instead of having her read it alone, several things changed: the language was easily understandable by all of the children, they all became intrigued with the story and even identified things they were familiar with. :-) thanks to JK Rowling, they had a schema f
Mar 07, 2016 Katie rated it really liked it
The Trumpeter of Krakow is the 1929 Newbery winner and tells the story of Joseph, a boy who moves from Ukraine to Krakow with his mother and father in the early years of the Renaissance. His father is protecting a mysterious treasure and thus they are pursued by a villain who seeks this treasure. The book is adventurous and engaging, and I liked the picture it painted of life in 15th century Krakow.

I'm not sure how accurate the book's portrayal of the philosophy/science/religion of the time per
Meagan Castor
Oct 14, 2013 Meagan Castor rated it really liked it
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
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
Jan 16, 2016 Kim rated it it was amazing
The book received the Newberry award back in the 1920s and I think it testifies to the high level of expectations for children of that day & age, to aspire to more, to read difficult books, etc. I liked the book very much, but I also come to it knowing a bit more about WWI and II than the average 4th grader nowadays. One reviewer said she read it out loud to her children and that that helped them get into the book more, so if you want your children to be interested, you might try reading it ...more
Angie Lisle
May 11, 2016 Angie Lisle rated it did not like it
I'm starting to wonder if those early Newbery judges liked to torture kids?

This 1929 Newbery Award Winner was difficult for me to read, for a multitude of reasons. Let me start with the depiction of women. Kelly didn't even bother to name the mother of his main character, Joseph, even though "Mother" often appears on the scene. Both "Mother" and her son's love interest, Elzbietka, relay the idea that females need to be cared for by men and need to be told what to do. Ugh. Spare me the medieval
Jan 27, 2010 Megan rated it it was ok
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.
Aug 09, 2008 Marsha rated it liked it
Interesting novel so far, but I am noting some pretty giant historical inaccuracies.

Benjamin Thomas
I found it difficult to get into this one despite the medieval historical setting. Perhaps it is the era in which it was written (1920's). That lends a certain style and pace that is a little slower and a tad more "literary". Despite the novel's heritage as an award winner, it would be difficult for me to recommend this to children for fear they would toss it aside declaring it to be too boring. Those of Polish ancestry would likely consider it more of a duty to read and, indeed, quite possibly ...more
A Bookworm Reading (Plethora)
Mr. Kelly leads us on a tale of suspense and mystery in the medieval town of Krakow, Poland. We follow Joseph, a young boy and his family displaced when they flee their homestead in the middle of the night. They arrive in Krakow hoping to find safety and shelter with a relative, only to find this relative has been forced to leave the town. The family has no financial means left to continue their journey and must find a way to survive in Krakow while hiding their identity and keeping a mysterious ...more
Nov 22, 2012 Bhg rated it did not like it
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

Mar 14, 2012 Aimee rated it liked it
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
Jul 22, 2015 Nann rated it it was ok
1461: unrest in Ukraine forces the Charnetski family to flee their estate and find refuge in Krakow. Joseph's father becomes the trumpeter in the church tower, playing the Hejnal every hour. (It's still done; look on YouTube.) There are good guys (scholars and alchemists), iffy guys (necromancers -- a great vocabulary word), bad guys (foreign thugs), and a devastating fire. There's a treasure to guard. It's an exciting tale.

I was glad that the edition of Trumpeter had an introduction (from 1966
Mar 06, 2013 Kathi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: newbery
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
Ryan Shimp
Oct 03, 2016 Ryan Shimp rated it liked it
I loved how this book was set in the 15th century because you don't find a lot of books that are so far back in time and portray the same detail that Kelly did. Although the start was pretty tedious, the pace picked up soon after. I thought there were a lot of unique and different characters throughout the story. I usually only like modern day books and This was a different kind of book that I'm used to. I think this was good for the time period but the 15th century is a very long time ago. Over ...more
Jul 14, 2016 Misti rated it liked it
In medieval Poland, a mysterious jewel is stolen, a family is displaced, and an alchemist seeks the secret of transmuting base metals to gold. This book won the Newbery back in 1929, and I do see some distinguished elements -- the writing is good, though a little more flowery than is common these days, and there's an interesting plot if you can get through all of the descriptive bits. The characters aren't particularly fleshed out (the alchemist, a secondary character, was probably the most inte ...more
May 30, 2015 Bethany rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
Before I was even finished with the first chapter, I was wondering why I have never read this book before! The writing is elegant, the pacing is engaging, and the story captures the spirit of a strong people group. Children's fiction of this kind is hard to find. I am looking forward to sharing this book with my middle school students next year.
This story was much better than I anticipated, considering it won the 1929 Newberry Medal. Yes, 1929! We read it aloud to complement our middle ages history lesson about Eastern Europe and the Russians. It did a great job of giving us an idea about the culture and landscape at that time in a relatively entertaining story. It's a quick read, and I would suggest it for those studying the middle ages.
Jan 04, 2016 Kristen rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery-winners
Newbery Medal Winner--1929

This was a pleasant surprise to end my first decade of Newbery winners. A little mystery, a little action, a little fantasy. Some dry chapters that took a little more dedication to get through, but far more entertaining than some of the winners this far. Clearly 1920s literature is not really my cup of tea.
I knew we had this book around so when one of my dear friends said that it was wonderful, I found our copy and read. I thought I knew the plot, but it turns out that I knew the plot of the prologue.
The book was very different than I expected, but an interesting and enjoyable read. I can see returning to it again.
Phil Jensen
Apr 13, 2014 Phil Jensen rated it liked it
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
Jun 26, 2016 Michigosling rated it really liked it
I've been rereading some of my favorite books this summer and I realized today that I had no excuse for never having read The Trumpeter of Krakow. It won a Newbery, it has been sitting on my daughter's shelf for at least ten years, and my very own mother lived in Krakow briefly as a girl. Why does Goodreads not recognize Newbery as a correctly spelled word?

I had actually picked it up and tried reading it a few years ago and been distracted, but today I had no trouble getting into it. In fact I
Feb 27, 2016 AngieA rated it really liked it
Historical fiction set in 1461 Poland, this 1929 Newberry Winner is one I had never run across nor even had recommended to me by teachers. It uses as its backdrop the story of the brave Trumpeter of Krakow and his continuing to sound the alarm until he was finally killed by an enemy arrow in mid-note. Since that time (and to this day) the Heynal is played only until that point. Joseph, our hero, uses that information to make a pact with his new friend, Elzbietka and it comes in handy later. Jose ...more
Jan 22, 2016 Janis rated it it was amazing
The author of the historical fiction book 1CThe Trumpeter of Krakow 1D is Eric P. Kelly. The genre of this book is adventure. I chose to read this book because It looked like a cool medieval / knight book and I like those kinds of books because they are exciting. It turned out that it was not this kind of book but I am still glad I picked it up.
The story takes place in the city of Krakow in Poland at the time of about 1460. These are some of the main characters of the book. First there is Pan A
This came alive for me because I so recently visited and loved Krakow, and with Poland being my 1/4 ancestral home I can easily feel connected to the history. It's a good children's book, fine story, and bonus points for history and for decrying sexism and banditry and superstition and for suggesting we should be nice to the puppy and other people and so on. Also, have I mentioned that I love Krakow? And music is the hero of the story (in a way)! All in all, good stuff (especially compared to, a ...more
Anne Slater
Sep 26, 2014 Anne Slater rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a Newbery Award classic that I never managed to read as a child. I am so glad it came through my hands this summer.

Originally published in 1928, it stands the test of time as long a s the reader is prepared to sit back, as if in a large over-stuffed red leather arm chair, and regress into the 15th century. There are good guys and bad guys, history and the ever-present greed. A loyal family, the treasure they are hiding (this part kind of sinks into the background as the action of the sto
Jun 06, 2015 Anita rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery-medals
I found the Trumpeter of Krakow an interesting read, and at times fascinating. It won the Newbery Medal in 1929, and so was on my challenge list to read all the Newbery Medal books. Part of my interest is to try to figure out why Newbery winners received the recognition they did. This book is a historical fiction set during Poland's Golden Age in Medieval Europe. (My ignorance of European history and geography is embarrassing. I did not know Poland had a Golden Age! I had to keep looking up actu ...more
Mar 29, 2016 Janice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-lit, newbery
The story starts out with an old tale where a trumpeter who sounds the hour by playing the heynal. He refuses to leave his post when it is under siege and dies just before the final note when an arrow strikes him in the breast. Now it is tradition for this church to sound the hour but let the song remain incomplete as a tribute.

Enter Joseph who is traveling to the city of Krakow with his parents. They have fled their village where they had been attacked. They are accosted again as they try to en
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Children's Books: Winner & Honors from 1929 8 68 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 17 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...

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