Monday, November 19, 2018

THE BOOK OF BOY by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch (February, 2018, Greenwillow, 288 pages, for ages 8 to 12)

Synopsis (from the book jacket):  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 sort that concern
                                                                  the living and the dead.

Why I recommend it:   The voice is superbBoy himself tells the tale in first person. Masterful writing, a compelling plot, and intriguing characters (especially Boy and Secundus, a mysterious pilgrim who hires hunchbacked Boy to carry his pack on a pilgrimage) make this a novel you MUST read. Plus, the research is most impressive and the book jacket and chapter headings are beautifully designed.

I was still hospitalized when this book came out in February, so I completely missed it, but thankfully, the publisher recently sent me a copy, in exchange for an honest review. Set in 1350 Europe, this is a compelling, funny, earthy and yet religious tale, reminiscent of Chaucer, though with a touch of magical realism. I had no trouble divining the mystery of who Boy really is, but I'm sure an 8 or 9 year old would be kept guessing.

Favorite lines: Last night's conversation flooded my mind. I carried a rib of Saint Peter, the first pope of Rome--me, a humble goatherd!  (from p. 28)

Catherine Gilbert Murdoch's website

Have you read The Book of Boy?  What did you think?