The Book of Boy
The Book of Boy

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Annotation: In 1350, a young outcast on a pilgrimage is swept up into a thrilling and perilous treasure hunt that takes him across medieval Europe in search of precious holy relics.
Catalog Number: #160752
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Illustrator: Schoenherr, Ian,
Pages: 278 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-268620-8 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-1246-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-268620-6 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-1246-0
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017043536
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Secundus, a pilgrim, and Boy, a goatherd, travel together from France to Rome in 1350, each mysterious character on a quest. Murdock is in complete control of her medieval material, limning a world of bleak, plague-decimated villages and steeped in religious belief. The fantastical story is beautifully served by its generous page design, thick deckle-edged paper, and gorgeous woodcut-style illustrations. Most remarkable is the complex, compelling character of Boy.
Kirkus Reviews
Light and darkness have never clashed with such fierce majesty and eloquent damnation.Murdock weaves
Publishers Weekly
In a picaresque work of historical fiction set in 14th-century France, "Boy," the only name the young protagonist is given, is drafted for a transcontinental mission by Secundus, a scoundrel posing as a pilgrim. Secundus's quest is to collect seven relics associated with Saint Peter and, thereby, gain entry to heaven. Boy quickly realizes that "collect" really means "steal," and the child struggles with both the moral implications of the adventure and a desire for a miracle. Born with a physical disfigurement, Boy has lived a life of ridicule. Might Saint Peter heal the disability? In first-person narration, Boy recounts the grim realities of medieval life, leavening the telling with wonderfully funny exchanges with animals, with which Boy is able to communicate telepathically. That ability is just one of the special qualities that prompts a priest, who had mentored Boy before perishing from the Black Death, to warn the child, "never reveal yourself." Among the mostly sinister cast, Boy shines with unique, good-hearted brightness. This action-packed tale, with a luminous central character, unspools with a strong message about how appearances can deceive. Ages 8-12. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Feb.)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Light and darkness have never clashed with such fierce majesty and eloquent damnation.Murdock weaves an engrossing tale set in medieval France, filled with charismatic characters, daring deeds, and more sinister duplicity than a certain serpent in the Garden of Eden. The titular Boy is thought a simpleton, a disfigured child who has lived a life of ridicule. Accepting of his sorry lot in life, the humble servant wants nothing more than to live in the shadows and avoid the ill-tempered attention of the likes of town bully Ox. That is, he accepts it until the arrival of the shadowy pilgrim, Secundus, enlarges Boy's world beyond the small boundaries of his village and introduces him to a world filled with greed, hunger, joy, deceit, and victory. Along with a story that unravels to reveal that not everything in the world is as it appears, Murdock delivers a wickedly fun-filled quest that twists and turns with lyrical fire. Boy ponders: "Pilgrim he might be but this man has sin stitched into his soul." The story is, among other things, an exploration of religion, Secundus' thieving quest for relics a counterpoint to Boy's stalwart faith.Blend epic adventure with gothic good and evil, and add a dash of sly wit for a tale that keeps readers turning the page, shaking their heads, and feeling the power of choice. (Historical fiction. 8-12)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* It is 1350, the pope has fled from Rome to France, plague has ravished Europe, and Boy is sitting in an apple tree when a mysterious traveler approaches. So begins the marvelously rich tale of Boy, who has a secret; Secundus, who has many secrets; and the journey they undertake to find seven relics: rib, tooth, thumb, toe, dust, skull, and tomb. Murdock uses the conventions of the pilgrim's journey and adds enticing details that will draw in a young audience. Boy, an orphan and servant in a manor house, was told by the village priest he is a miracle, but he doesn't feel like one. He has a hump on his back, which makes him an object of derision, and he must hide his ability to speak with and understand animals. Secundus, meanwhile, is a man of mystery who stinks of brimstone, but as he warms to Boy, he also exhibits kindness and loyalty. Their epic adventures take them to Rome, where Secundus is determined to present his relics at the tomb of St. Peter. Scuffles and sacrifices, ferocious animals, and dastardly thieves abound as Boy and Secundus are slowly revealed to readers d each other. This is also a beautiful piece of bookmaking, from the woodblock-style design elements to the manuscript-like paper. A vivid, not-to-be-missed story, part The Inquisitor's Tale (2016), part Skellig (1998), but wholly its own.
Word Count: 45,408
Reading Level: 4.3
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.3 / points: 6.0 / quiz: 195979 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.4 / points:11.0 / quiz:Q75696
Lexile: 600L

A young outcast is swept up into a thrilling and perilous medieval treasure hunt in this literary page-turner by acclaimed bestselling author Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

This epic and engrossing quest story is for fans of Adam Gidwitz’s The Inquisitor’s Tale and Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and for readers of all ages. Features a map and black-and-white art by Ian Schoenherr throughout.

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 by others 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 into an action-packed and suspensful expedition across Europe to gather the seven precious relics of Saint Peter.

Boy quickly realizes this journey is not an innocent one. They are stealing the relics and accumulating dangerous enemies in the process. But Boy is determined to see this pilgrimage through until the end—for what if St. Peter can make Boy’s hump go away? A surprising and unforgettable tale for readers of all ages.

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