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?


  1. I haven't read this one yet but have it high on my future reads list based on your review. It has all the elements of a great story. Thanks for sharing.

  2. The blurb makes it sounds really good. Glad you liked it so much.

  3. I love that period in history. I hadn't heard of this book, but I will be looking for it. Thanks for telling me about it.

  4. This sounds like a gem. I know that I will look for it. I really enjoyed your review and what you shared. Do you think teens would be caught up in the story. Great way to learn some history.

  5. Not sure if teens would get caught up in it, possibly younger teens. But I was certainly caught up in (even though I guessed the mystery), so who knows, Pat?

  6. I haven't heard of this one before. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. Definitely sounds interesting. :)

  7. I LOVED this book. Thanks for reviewing it!

  8. I didn't buy this one because I can't see any of my students reading it. I bought the Gidwitz medieval title, and it's just gathering dust!

    1. That's a shame, Karen. Sorry I didn't notice this comment until now. The Book of Boy has since won a Newbery Honor award. Did that make a difference in students wanting to read it? Or is the Newbery really only something an adult cares about as we used to say in the bookstore?


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