Thursday, October 09, 2008
Although The Trumpeter of Krakow won the Newbery Medal in 1929, the excitement and adventure contained within the novel would interest many readers, especially those fascinated by medieval life.
In 1461, Joseph Charnetski-Kowalski and his parents are forced into exile from their Ukrainian farm into the city of Krakow (Poland). Forced to undergo new identities, Joseph becomes the trumpeter at the Church of Our Lady. Unfortunately, the Tartars catch up to the family, who are the caretakers of a very precious crystal.
Alchemy, breathless chases, and a hint of romance make this a winning read. Although the writing is of another era and is rich with vocabulary, it should not deter patient readers with a taste for adventure. It also provides a glimpse of medieval life in Poland, giving us a different perspective on the era.
The Trumpeter of Krakow is probably the only Newbery book from the 1920s that still enjoys any significant amount of readership (The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle might also be another); Kelly’s sense of adventure and intrigue shine through the pages, making this a thoroughly satisfying read.