November 22, 2017

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The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz | SLJ Review

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Gidwitz, Adam. The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog. illus. by Hatem Aly. 384p. Dutton. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525426165.
Gr 5-10–What is a miracle? Is a miracle what happens when, faced with murderous bandits, a teenage monk ripsInquisitor's Apprentice a leg off his donkey, beats them to death with it, then restores the donkey’s leg? Or is it a miracle when a cranky innkeeper is so moved by a little girl’s friendliness that he risks his life to help her and her companions flee a posse of armed knights? Maybe the real miracle happens when readers attracted to the action and violence a particular author is known for find themselves strongly invested in the moral questions that plague bandit-killing monk and friendly peasant girl alike—along with every other character they encounter, from a young minstrel/pickpocket to Louis IX. Gidwitz’s tale of medieval France successfully combines the epic with the personal, aiming for that heart-stopping moment when characters readers have come to care about find themselves on a collision course with one of the great wood chippers of history—the Inquisition, agents of which are in hot pursuit of three underdog characters (and one actual dog) from the very start. It is left to the titular Inquisitor to discover the truth behind the legends that quickly rise to surround these kids. He nudges it from each of the travelers at a roadside inn, the narrative tension rising as each facet is revealed. VERDICT This book appeals to the heart, to the mind, and to any reader’s appetite for action: read it for the thrilling escapes, the fart jokes, the stinky cheese, or the palace intrigue. Read it for the Talmudic wisdom, commonsense philosophies, and moments of doubt. Read it for the palaces and monasteries and the unbelievable descriptions of food. But read it.–Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson

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