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Fire, Bed & Bone

by Henrietta Branford

Published by U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 1998
122 pages
ISBN: 0-7636-0338-4

Ages 10 - 12

A point of view distinctive for two reasons distinguishes this singular and riveting short novel by Henrietta Branford that chronicles the lives of peasants under the harsh and unfair laws of England's ruling classes during the late 14th century. It is unusual to read a historical novel for children that so clearly addresses issues of economic and social justice. But this story of landlord cruelty and peasant unrest leaves no doubt as to where fairness and goodness does and does not lie. Even more unusual is the author's choice for narrator--a hunting dog who spends much of her time with Rufus and Comfort, two of the peasants whose lives are torn apart by their efforts to seek an end to their oppression. The dog is witness to the attempts of Rufus, Comfort, and others in their village to rebel against the landlords for whom they toil without benefit. These events become part of the drama of her life, along with puppies born and gone away, of sometimes running with the wild dogs and wolves. But this dog who knows what it means to run wild also knows loyalty and the touch of human kindness, and the hearth of Rufus and Comfort is where she will always return if she can. An unsentimental, wholly believable narrative voice propels this dramatic story. CCBC categories: Fiction for Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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