The Inquisitor’s Tale or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz
Illuminated by Hatem Aly
Summary from Goodreads
1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.
Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, in a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.
Whenever I mention historical fiction to my middle grade students, I get eye rolls and quiet grumbling. Nothing is more boring to tweens then history. But I have been able to win over a few with those rare historical fictions that are done well. This one is done exceptionally well.
I have seen this book on almost every list of possible Newbery winners. I can see why. It is a nice mix of adventure, superheroes, epic quest and religious persecution. Everything you might want in a middle grade novel. That said, Adam Gidwitz has written a very intriguing book set in the middle ages, which is not a time period most tweens are familiar with. But he makes it fresh and modern. I also like the way the story is told, through various characters sitting in a tavern, much like the Canterbury tales. The illustrations on almost every page also enhance the story’s narrative and middle ages feel. It would have been nice if some of those illustrations could have been in color, like the old medieval manuscripts were.
This one also has a great author’s note, that explains where he got his source materials as well as an extensive bibliography. Many of the characters, as well as the dog, are based on someone real or a real happening. I found his author note almost as interesting as the story itself.
Here is the video for the audiobook, which looks like it is fantastic. It might win some awards as well. I will have to add it to my audiobook TBL.