We shall all, in the end, be led to where we belong. We shall all, in the end, find our way home. In a time of war, a mysterious child appears at the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing.
Gentle Brother Edik finds the girl, Beatryce, curled in a stall, wracked with fever, coated in dirt and blood, and holding fast to the ear of Answelica the goat. As the monk nurses Beatryce to health, he uncovers her dangerous secret, one that imperils them all--for the king of the land seeks just such a girl, and Brother Edik, who penned the prophecy himself, knows why.
And so it is that a girl with a head full of stories--powerful tales-within-the-tale of queens and kings, mermaids and wolves--ventures into a dark wood in search of the castle of one who wishes her dead. But Beatryce knows that, should she lose her way, those who love her--a wild-eyed monk, a man who had once been king, a boy with a terrible sword, and a goat with a head as hard as stone--will never give up searching for her, and to know this is to know everything.
Set "during a time of war" when "terrible things happen everywhere," Newbery Medalist DiCamillo’s engrossing medieval fable verges on darkness while examining what changes a world. When gentle Brother Edik finds young Beatryce in the monastery barn, she is covered in blood and dirt, plagued by fever, and holding the ear of the ferocious goat Answelica-who has until now terrorized the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing with her bites and butts. Upon emerging from her sickness, Beatryce recalls only her name and her ability to read and write, the latter a dangerous secret in a land where only a few people, solely men, are permitted those skills. Fearful of who might be searching for such a child-and of her possible connection to the prophecy of "a girl child who will unseat a king"-the monastery’s brethren rid themselves of girl and goat, sending Beatryce away with protector Answelica. In the often-harrowing world, Beatryce encounters idiosyncratic individuals she can trust, each with a painful history that’s rendered humanely in DiCamillo’s deliberate third-person telling (characters default to white). Tenderly illuminated by Caldecott Medalist Blackall’s atmospheric, fine-lined b&w art, this compassionate tale rejoices in "the wonder of being known," the protective powers of understanding one’s identity, and the strength found in the hard head of a beloved goat. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 2021 Publisher’s Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Gr 3-6–The prophecy speaks of a girl who will unseat a king and change the world. It doesn’t exactly mention a goat, but true prophecy will find a way to be fulfilled...especially if the hard-headed, and hard-butting, Answelica has anything to do with it. Brother Edik, a monk who illuminates manuscripts and pronounces the occasional prophecy (including the one about Beatryce), is startled to find a very sick girl curled up in the straw next to the monastery’s irascible goat. He doesn’t realize that the king is looking to capture this very girl; he takes her in and nurses her back to health. The goat refuses to leave Beatryce’s side as she is eventually forced to leave the monastery and earn her way by writing (in a world where girls are not allowed to read and write), and ultimately by befriending others who help demonstrate that Beatryce is, in fact, the girl foretold to change everything. Hand to fans of Adam Gidwitz’s The Inquisitor’s Tale (although there are no farting dragons here). VERDICT DiCamillo’s fantasy has no magic, but is a gentle tale of the power of love and the determination to do the right thing, even when that thing comes at great personal cost. Recommended for tweens in all library settings, both independent and read-alouds.
Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.