A beautifully crafted middle-grade novel spiced with magic—and gargoyles!—from the acclaimed author of Hour of the Bees and Race to the Bottom of the Sea.
Fished from the river as an infant and raised by a roving band of street urchins who call themselves the Crowns, eight-year-old Duck keeps her head down and her mouth shut. It’s a rollicking life, always thieving, always on the run—until the ragtag Crowns infiltrate an abandoned cathedral in the city of Odierne and decide to set down roots.
It’s all part of the bold new plan hatched by the Crowns’ fearless leader, Gnat: one of their very own will pose as an apprentice to the local baker, relieving Master Griselde of bread and coin to fill the bellies and line the pockets of all the Crowns. But no sooner is Duck apprenticed to the kindly Griselde than Duck’s allegiances start to blur. Who is she really—a Crown or an apprentice baker? And who does she want to be?
Meanwhile, high above the streets of Odierne, on the roof of the unfinished cathedral, an old and ugly gargoyle grows weary of waiting to fulfill his own destiny—to watch and protect. Told in alternating viewpoints, this exquisite novel evokes a timeless tale of love, self-discovery, and what it means to be rescued.---from the publisher
448 pages 978-1536204681 Ages 10-14
Keywords: fantasy, finding yourself, adventure, medieval fiction, orphans, survival, thief, choices, self image, identity, loyalty, love, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, 13 year old, 14 year old
Gnat, Ash, Le Chou, Drippy...and Duck... they are the Crowns and this is the only family they've ever known. They live on the streets and survive by stealing and taking shelter in the unfinished cathedral in Odierne. Duck... or "Garbage" as she is sometimes called does not speak. So it's a surprise when Gnat, the leader of the Crowns, picks Duck to go to the local bakery to steal bread for the Crowns.
For Duck this one visit to the bakery is a beginning. When Gnat who can read finds out the baker is in need of an apprentice, Duck is sent to apply for the position and through some shenanigans Duck gets the position. She's about to learn to bake all kinds of bread and at the same time she will be slipping bread and thieved coins to her "family" the Crowns when they come to the bakery as customers.
When Duck asks herself, "Who am I?" the answer she always comes back to is " I am a Crown." So at first she doesn't mind helping her family to eat and have money to buy a few things. But sometimes things change. The change for Duck comes through the Master Baker herself- Griselde. Trust, love, empathy, compassion - it's hard to ignore them much less turn away from them.
This is a gorgeous story written about lost children whose beginnings in life may be unknown, may be painful, may not look too good when held up to the light. But the light is a very powerful light here and it will reach itself out to every reader. The light in this story is hope and possibility and the wonderful undefeatable power of unconditional love.
What will Duck choose to be? Who will she choose to be her family? Will where she came from design who she will be forever?
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com