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The Book of Boy

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,085 ratings  ·  736 reviews
Boy has always been relegated to the outskirts of his small village. With a large hump on his back, a mysterious past, and a tendency to talk to animals, he is often mocked and abused by the other kids in his town. Until the arrival of a shadowy pilgrim named Secondus. Impressed with Boy’s climbing and jumping abilities, Secondus engages Boy as his servant, pulling him int ...more
Kindle Edition, 293 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by Greenwillow
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Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,085 ratings  ·  736 reviews

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When you think about it, many authors of children must have something they’re afraid to write. Some book or idea or concept that tempts them but that they wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot-pole. Religion is probably right up there on some people’s lists, regardless of the denomination. Is there a way to incorporate it seamlessly into a fantasy novel, retaining the parts you want, eschewing the rest? Is it wise to include at all? What constitutes religious writing at all? It’s rare that a book writt ...more
Hannah Greendale
DNF at page 78.

Unique because it’s unconventional, but it’s difficult to fathom a middle-grader taking an interest in this stuffy and uneventful medieval narrative.
M. Lauritano
May 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am lucky enough to count Jen Adams (author of the amazing Babylit board books and the Edgar the Raven books) as a good friend. Jen and I also have very similar tastes in books, so when she recommends something, I listen! So when she told me, not once but several times, about The Book of Boy, I definitely paid attention. Also I was intrigued by the fact that she was rather cagey about it, only saying that it's about a boy in the Middle Ages . . . and then trailing off. Now I know why! And I wil ...more
Leonard Kim
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Like others, I think Gidwitz’s The Inquisitor’s Tale is the obvious point of comparison. This book is much better written, often beautiful, but uncanny to the point that I wonder if some people will find this inaccessible, especially compared to Gidwitz.
¸¸.•*¨*•♫ Mrs. Buttercup •*¨*•♫♪
“The key to hell picks all locks”

This book was the group read for this year's Middle Grade March readathon (, and honestly, even though I didn't particularly like it, I am glad it was. This book is so much different than any other middle grade book I ever read (and I read a lot of middle grade) that it had me intrigued. I never thought an author could write a children's book about pilgrims and relics set in the Middle age, but here it is!

The solemn ton
Brittany Du Pont
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this book out loud to my 9 & 11 year old sons. It was difficult to read out loud and consequently was a slow start. We were never quite sure if the book was historical or fantasy, and that was a difficult too. Plus, we are a Christian family, so the doctrine was difficult to sort out what was real and not. That said, my 11 year old loved the whole story. My 9 year old said it was good because of the end. WE LOVED THE END! It was heartwarming and beautiful with a clear positive message!
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Loved the tale! Many reviews are comparing this to the Inquisitor’s Tale. I did not like The Inquisitor’s Tale. That story bored me. I liked this story much more. The book reminded me of Avi’s Crispin. I really liked the relationship build up of Secundus and Boy. In the end, the needed each other.
Jordan Henrichs
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Think Gidwitz's The Inquisitor's Tale and Whalen Turner's The Thief. Medieval setting, Mission Impossible-like quest for religious relics, and a few fun plot twists. Fun and original. ...more
Mar 29, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Credit to The Book of Boy for at least one thing: it's more original than most juvenile literature published in the same era. An orphan for as long as he can remember, Boy has been raised as a servant to the adults who rule the manor, but he's not complaining; Europe in the year 1350 is reeling from a plague that wiped out huge portions of its population, as well as an earthquake that reduced magnificent cities to rubble. Life could be much worse for Boy than it is. Father Petrus taught him the ...more
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2020
I went into this book expecting an adventure story. The blurb on Goodreads even says that it's "action-packed". But, that was not the truth. This book is a quest the main character, Boy, goes on with a pilgrim to collect relics. But each time they go to get a relic the event is over so quickly, without hardly any struggle or excitement. If this book had been any longer I probably wouldn't have even bothered to finish it. ...more
Ms. Yingling
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus
Boy is a servant in the household of Sir Jacques. It used to be a decent position, especially for a hunchback, but once the lady of the manor and her children died of the plague and Sir Jacques was gravely injured, the former Cook ruled the roost. When Secundus, a pilgrim, happens by and decides that Boy could be useful in carrying his bag, he bargains with Cook and has Boy accompany him. Secundus is ill, and looking for seven relics of St. Peter's that might get him int
Mar 02, 2020 rated it liked it
I got a head start on this year's Middle Grade March Group Read pick. I've not read many books set in the middle ages and I've certainly never read a children's book set in the middle ages. This book was definitely in the adventure genre. Readers follow "Boy," the main character and the quest he is forced to go on with an older man until he can return home. His adventure ends up being the highlight of his short life. There is a magical element thrown in but the story on the whole is historical f ...more
Loved it! Everything about it. There's magic, but no magic. It's almost more of a magical realism, a magic intertwined with belief. A hunchback boy is sold to an ominous stranger as an assistant on his quest for holy relics - which he believes will save his soul. I love how Murdock hints at things without explaining, in fact, though much becomes clear, some things never do, and it's lovely. I recommend. ...more
Amber Scaife
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in the Europe of the Middle Ages, this is the story of a hunchback boy, the pilgrim who takes him into his service, and their trip from France to Rome (with many stops in between). But it's also about secrets and mysteries, heaven and hell, angels and demons, and miracles of all sorts, both supernatural ones and - the best kind, really - beautiful, everyday ones. Highly, highly recommended. ...more
Well-written, but odd. And the medieval setting makes it unlikely that many kids will pick it up. The strong religious elements may create strong feelings as they did with me.
Apr 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one.
I guess the Newbery Committees have decided that if a book is not comprehensible they must be missing the point, so it should get the award. This was an honor, not the winner. And it is pretty awful. It is about the cruelty of the medieval times towards the disabled. Actually, I'm a bit surprised it didn't get any mention by the Schneider. Perhaps because there really isn't any redeeming quality in terms of the attitude toward the disabled. The closest to this would be the Door in the Wall which ...more
Brandy Painter
The Book of Boy takes place in the medieval era. It is a story about Boy who goes on a pilgrimage with a strange man who seems to see to the core of everyone he meets and is on a strange quest. From a literary perspective, this is an excellently well-written book. Murdock manages to maintain her medieval language style, which is not always an easy task when writing from a modern perspective. It is definitely a credit to her craft and a plus for readers who enjoy being fully immersed in a setting ...more
Lisa Guzman
Apr 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I'd say 3.5 stars.

I liked this book because it taught me something about history that I did not know anything about before--the journey of pilgrims and the collections of relics in the 1300's. It is fascinating to learn that religious figures' bones or pieces of cloth are valued so highly--I mean it makes sense, but I just didn't know that it was a thing.

The book is written in such simple language that a few times I felt like I didn't understand what had just happened, because it wasn't explaine
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
A winner of the Newbery Honor Award for this year, and, not for the first time, a better book than the actual winner. The book jacket states the following:
“What a fine story this is! For who does not want to read about such things? A boy who can talk to animals. A terrifying, perilous journey full of bravery and daring. Knights and bandits and ghosts and thieves. Howling wolves, heroic donkeys, and a bag of bones. Lords, ladies, liars and riches beyond compare. And mysteries and miracles—of the
Jul 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
I was really looking forward to this book- a historical fiction middle level book that was not US history. This is also a fantasy book and the author does nothing to help readers understand the history and church practices in 1350. A student would not really understand the Black Death either. This book is not for children- it would be a rare middle schooler that would stick with this book. I wish it would have just been a historical fiction book. Hoping this is not the Newbery 2019 book- it is o ...more
Katrina Tangen
Soo good! The writing, the characters, the action-packed plot, the historical details. The ending let it down a tiny bit, but overall I just loved it and it's definitely my favorite of the year so far! ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
There are some things I'll probably never understand about this book but the ones I do make up for it. There were some unexpected events (in a good way) that took place within the story and that is one of the reasons I'm giving it 4 stars.

The grammar of the book was different and out of the norm for me. I understand this is due to the book set during the 1350's. I enjoyed taking the trip with the two main characters and seeing that part of the country through their eyes.

Rating: PG
Language: ma
On the one hand, I found this book a genuinely enjoyable read, down to the sentence level, and I found Boy to be a memorable and endearing character. Honestly, I think that character is the real hook here, not the treasure-hunt plot--some kids will be hooked by Boy's voice, while others will be bored after a couple of chapters.

On the other hand, found the ending to be a bit disappointing after such a complex set-up. It was moving, yes, and you could extrapolate all sorts of theological stuff fr
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a very entertaining YA novel set in 1360, when the Black Plague had just swept through Europe. (How appropriate to read it during the shelter-in-place orders for corona virus. I had no idea when I picked up the book!)

A young hunchback orphan named Boy goes on a quest with a mysterious stranger, to find seven relics from St. Peter. Who each of these characters really are is a big part of the story, as neither are exactly who they seem.

We travel through devastated towns and cities, past f
Michelle Spencer
How delightful to have a tale of magical realism set in 1350. Even more unique, it’s magical realism based on the religious fervor of relic worship/relic tourism/pilgrimage. This was a creative yet simple story, but even in its simplicity, the amount of research is impressive. Even with the more magical, supernatural elements of the story, everything felt very believable and precise, and setting aside the aforementioned supernatural elements, very accurate to Middle Ages church history.

The synta

I don’t think goodreads reviews let you make the font any larger, but the second they do I will update this review so I am type-screaming as loud as possible.

The main character, Boy, begins the book with a hunchback (which is called kyphosis) and is considered by those around him as stupid and useless. That causes him a lot of emotional hurt, but he is relatively content with his life as is despite being literally valued at nothing
Theresa Grissom
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5th, 4th, middle-grade
Wow! I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of settings in the middles ages. So, for me, I had a bit of trouble starting out with this book. But, once I got to a certain point in the story, I was absolutely hooked and could not put this down! I had to see how this ended! Truly unique and utterly captivating, I will recommend this to people.
R. G. Nairam
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newberys
I was really excited for this, but it definitely was not for me. I'm not sure I can really say if it's bad or failed in genre, etc., but a main thing I disliked were the fantastical elements. Part of this is because I thought the story was being played straight until a very sudden reveal. The other part is harder to explain...

Unlike some of the other reviewers so far, I actually loved /The Inquisitor's Tale/ by Adam Gidwitz. I thought it was a story with fantastic voice and infused with medieval
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
It is hard to imagine that this would appeal to a middle grade reader. While the prose is well-written, the story line is odd and uneventful. The characters are flat, and the subject matter is dull. One would have to have a great deal of background knowledge in order to understand many of the references and relics. It mostly left me feeling cold and bored. If it hadn't been the group read for Middle Grade March, I would have abandoned it around 70 pages. ...more
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Books and Jams Re...: Part 3 and 4 12 36 Mar 31, 2020 06:44PM  
Books and Jams Re...: Part 1 and 2 (up to pg 141) 13 42 Mar 30, 2020 05:51PM  
Play Book Tag: The Book of Boy, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock - 5 stars 3 15 Dec 11, 2018 10:45AM  

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