Ely Plot by Joan Lennon
(Suggested reading level: Grades 4-6)
Amber (10) and I read this aloud together, and I have to say it’s one of my favorite middle school books I’ve read recently. It’s a great mix of historical fiction and fantasy, but what sets it apart is the medieval background.
Pip is a boy, an orphan, who lives with a group of monks in the monastery at Wickit. Life is pretty boring until he meets a small stone dragon Perfect, a living gargoyle. Now you see why Amber loves the series; she dreams of having a pet dragon.
Pip along with his companion and two of the monks travel to the Cathedral at Ely during Holy Week. While there, Perfect and Pip discover a plot against the teenage king, who is also at the Cathedral. The two are determined to help save the King, leading to a daring rescue and dangerous chase through the fens of eastern England.
Honestly, I don’t remember reading many books with Amber that are set in medieval times, let alone a monastery in the fens. I appreciated how the author taught about the time period without diminishing the fun of the story. And no knights to be seen, mostly monks and “regular” people, and Perfect is the only touch of fantasy. The story, to me at least, seems to portray life at that time realistically, both for the monks and the nobles.
It’s a great book, plenty of action and adventure, fun characters. I also liked the Q&A section at the back, telling more about the World of Wickit, like the medicines and religious customs at that time, and the Old Fens. I have to admit that I thought one of the funnier parts of the book was in this section: why it was okay to eat barnacle geese and beaver during Lent.
Seeing black and white marked geese at the seaside, and also seeing black and white marked barnacles at the seaside, some bright spark (Gerald of Wales, in fact, in 1188) put the two together, and decided that the barnacle geese hatched out of the barnacles. This made them shellfish, obviously, and so eating barnacle geese during Lent was perfectly acceptable. But beaver? Well, beavers swim in water; fish swim in water; therefore, beavers are fish. Simple if you know how.
First published in 2007
Wickit Chronicles #1
Our copy was given to Amber as a gift and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.