The adventures of eleven-year-old Adam as he travels the open roads of thirteenth-century England searching for his missing father, a minstrel, and his stolen red spaniel, Nick. (from Amazon)
I picked this book up at the last library book sale mostly because the cover and title had mucho potential. It turned out to be a really sweet little book that reminds me a lot of The Secret Garden or Noel Streatfeild’s books. It’s an enjoyable read, with likable characters and a plot full of interesting medieval life.
Adam of the Road is a very well-written children’s historical fiction novel; I didn’t notice any historical inaccuracies that couldn’t be reasonably explained away (unlike in Lake of Skulls) and there weren’t any anachronisms that I could spot (not even language!). The story itself is pretty typical 1940’s children’s tale: optimistic, upbeat despite all the hardships the protagonist faces, and with a happy family-related ending.
One of my favorite cliches in children’s books is how the protagonist always seems to run into these fantastically nice people who want to help them accomplish whatever it is the protagonist wants to do. Need to cross a river? Take my seat, young sir! Lost your dog and father? Come travel with me on my dime and we’ll search for them together– and I won’t even ask you for anything in return! It’s very sweet and optimistic, and I like that.
There are a few baddies, of course, including one minstrel who steals Adam’s dog and another group who resort to theft in order to feed themselves, but they’re never any really big threat to Adam himself. Instead, I think they’re more used as a moral, uh, thingy, prodding Adam further along on his path to be a Good Person, etc.
I’m not surprised that Adam of the Road won a Newbery Medal. It’s wonderful! If you (or a kid you know) like historical fiction, especially children’s historical fiction, check out Adam of the Road.
Read: May 2009