Summer 2012 Kids’ Indie Next List: “Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers”
What does it mean? Luc wouldn’t know: he’s anything but. Born with only one ear, smaller and weaker than his younger brother, he has a mean- spirited father who can’t stand the sight of him.
Luc’s luck seems to improve when he is apprenticed to Pons, a kind and gentle fisherman. And he meets the beautiful Beatrice. But a sudden act of villainy lands Luc in North Africa, where he finds himself the property of a wealthy and powerful Arab. With no money for ransom and no hope of escape, Luc fears he will never see his native France again. This may seem like the end for Luc, but really, it’s just the beginning.
This page-turning adventure will take readers from sixteenth century France to Tunisia and back again. Along the way, Luc will learn that nothing in his own past, or Beatrice’s, is what it seemed. Is he a commoner, a slave, or a nobleman?
(Ages 10 and up / 5th grade and up)
“The nature of luck, fortune and fate is dissected and reexamined over the course of this outstanding novel. . .
Leeds writes delicately, fleshing out each character as a fully realized human being. Set in 15th-century France and Tunisia, the book is also meticulously researched, throwing readers into a past that feels fresh and new.
Engaging from the very first page, this is one work of historical fiction that will have even readers who prefer fantasy clamoring for a sequel.”
“The volatile temper of the Count de Muguet, combined with his intolerance of any physical imperfection (save for a peculiar deformity of his own), impels him to derail two young lives.
Beatrice, daughter of one of his knights, sees her father’s unjust execution at Muguet’s hand and is banished to live with her nurse, Mattie, in the cottage of Mattie’s fisherman brother, Pons. The Count’s own son Luc, born with one ear, is banished in infancy to farmers who he is raised to believe are his own family. Shortly after Muguet’s death, Luc senses a change for the worse in his adoptive father, and the teenage boy moves in with Pons to learn to fish. It’s a wonderful arrangement: Luc brings Pons luck at sea, Mattie has an extra pair of hands around the house, and Beatrice and Luc are mutually attracted, with the elder siblings’ obvious blessing. The idyll is shattered, though, when Pons’ boat is attacked by Saracen pirates who kidnap Luc and sell him into slavery in North Africa. His master Salah, an enlightened Arab scholar and skilled physician, offers Luc education, skills, and a broader view of the world-everything the young man could appreciate except his freedom.
While Luc chafes under Salah’s velvet despotism, Beatrice refuses to accept that Luc is lost to her and instigates a search that uncovers family she never knew she had, the truth about Luc’s parentage, and the depths of the deceased Count’s villainy.
Although the novel’s cover art emphasizes the act of piracy, this is more a story of intrigue and romance, with a well-integrated exploration of the meaning of freedom.
Fifteenth-century France may not be the most requested topic for young historical fiction lovers, but Leeds’ stellar central cast, with their great hearts and plausible flaws, is bound to charm the audience.”
Readers are effortlessly transported back to 15th-century France in this beautiful tale of misfortune turned salvation. . . . The fully drawn characters banter back and forth, creating a warm surrogate family. The dialogue sparkles . . . This fine historical novel is set in a place and time that is not commonly explored.