I love kids books that are fun, but sneak in some education at the same time. Witch Bell is a great example. The plot is full of adventure and great characters, but we also learn a little about medieval life.
Pip is an orphan who has been taken in by the brothers at the Wickit Monastery in the fens of England. He has a companion that he met in the tower, a living, breathing small dragon gargoyle named Perfect. How many kids dream of having a pet like that? It’s been raining for ages and many of the area residents have arrived at Wickit to escape flooding, including two strangers, the Traveler and the infamous Holy Hunter, an emissary of the Church. Through a series of events, Pip ends of being accused by the Holy Hunter of being in league with the devil.
Of course Perfect and their new friend come to his rescue, but the whole adventure is fun and entertaining. It also shines some light on medieval practices and superstitions. The Holy Hunter is clearly the bad guy, but he is offset by the wonderful, loving Brothers, really showing both sides of the Church at that time, cruel and kind.
It’s a great read for upper elementary/middle school readers, boys or girls. It’s not too long, has lots of action and a little bit of spookiness. Pip is a character that kids can relate to. He’s a good kid, but sometimes gets annoyed with the adults that boss him around, and there are definitely some chores he enjoys more than others. Just so you know, eel-skinning is not one of them.
I have to admit that I learn a lot reading these books, especially the “answers to your questions” portion in the back. For example, I didn’t know that Saint Neot is the patron saint of fish or what “cures” were tried to combat the Black Plague.
This is the fourth in the series and we’ve read them all. This one can certainly be read alone, but it’ll make you want to read the others anyway, so you might as well start at the beginning and read all four.
4 out of 5 stars
Category: Middle School – Fantasy, Historical
Wickit Chronicles #4
Published June 1st 2009 by Kane/Miller Book Publishers
Book source: Gift
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