GIDWITZ, Adam. The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog. 8 CDs. 10:14 hrs. Listening Library. Sept. 2016. $40. ISBN 9780735287389. digital download.
Gr 5-8 –The year is 1242; the setting: a roadside inn on the outskirts of a small French town. Travelers from all corners of France share what they know about the country’s most notorious outlaws: a group of three children and their dog. Jeanne is a peasant girl able to see the future. William is a young monk with unusual physical strength and intelligence. Jacob is a Jewish boy who possesses powerful healing abilities. The final member of the group is Gwenforte, the holy greyhound. These unlikely friends find themselves on the run from monks, demons, dragons, knights, and the king of France himself as they try to escape persecution and save religious books from being burned. Each traveler who is gathered at the inn recounts a different piece of the children’s story, creating a Canterbury Tales–like narrative structure. The audiobook is voiced by a cast of nine narrators, each telling a different character’s part of the tale. Gidwitz himself voices the character of the Inquisitor. Thirteenth-century music and vocals by a renowned medieval musician bring the troubadour’s part of the novel to life. An author’s note at the end of the production shares the background research Gidwitz did to create this story and includes details about what parts of the tale are based on actual medieval history and which parts are fiction. VERDICT Mixing history and adventure, religion and humor, Gidwitz breathes new life into the Middle Ages and makes this time period accessible and exciting for middle grade listeners.
This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2017 issue.