CM Archive
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Karleen Bradford
Toronto, HarperCollins, 1992. 185pp, galley, $9.95
ISBN 0-00-223892-6. CIP

Reviewed by Meredith MacKeen

Volume 20 Number 6
1992 November

Ursula, a feisty young healer, along with her friend Bruno, reluctantly joins the First Crusade. Through all the trauma of life in medieval Europe, the two support each other and eventually marry when they return to Cologne.

Ursula, a healer of both animals and people, is suspected of being a witch. Her father rescues her from burning at the stake by taking her on the crusade, which is being led by the local count, a suspicious character. Her best friend Bruno is extremely critical of the crusade but ultimately joins Ursula. The adventures along the route are an unending series of separations, massacres, starvation and violence, but all ends well.

For a novel which so realistically describes the crusades, the resolution of the plot seems unlikely. Would a Jewish boy survive raids, Ursula the advances of abusive men, and Bruno the trauma of battles to meet again in Cologne and find a purse of silver coins? Ursula mellows during the experiences but Bruno and her father remain one dimensional.

The simple, direct style builds good suspense and the happy ending will please many. English teachers will appreciate the irony and clever integration of the theme of wolves. History teachers will appreciate the incidental description of the medieval way of life.

The novel has possibilities as a read aloud for grades 5 to 7 and will appeal to independent readers willing to venture beyond contemporary settings.

Grades 5 to 7 / Ages 10 to 12

Meredith MacKeen is a teacher-Librarian at Souris Regional High School in Souris, Prince Edward Island

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1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


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