Monday, October 25, 2010

Big John's Secret, Book 23 of 52

12 year old John is full of questions and dreams. Although a free worker on a manor, he dreams of being a knight. At night Old Marm teaches him as much as she can of the duties and manners of a page in a castle. When a visiting knight comments that John reminds him of someone, he tries again to convince Old Marm to tell him of his past, of his father's name, of what happened to his parents, and of where his father may be. But always Old Marm bids him to wait and be patient. The knight takes Big John on as a page and then a squire and tells him about the knight whom John resembles and where he was last seen. Big John's deepest longing is to find the father whom he has never known, and his chance finally comes as Sir Alwyn embarks to the Holy Land with John on the 5th Crusade. Along the way he faces discouragement and setbacks, capture and release, and friendship with a remarkable friar who touches the heart of the lonely boy.

Big John's Secret by Eleanore M. Jewett is a mixture of a coming of age tale, historical fiction, and an adventure. The plot is extremely well written with lots of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing where the story will go next. I would consider it an excellent read aloud for ages 8 and up especially for boys and an independent read for the 10 and up crowd. I continue to be impressed by the depth and quality of the stories in Bethlehem Books' Living History Library; and although not as well known as some of the other books in the series, I think Big John's Secret would make an excellent addition to any home library.

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