Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Silver Cup Review

Book Talk: Anna lives with her father and her cousin in a small hut on her uncle's property.  Her uncle is a successful blacksmith and her father makes a living traveling to different towns trading his goods.  He is apprenticing her cousin to the art, which often takes them on long trips and leaves Anna at home while her cousin and Father see the world.  She longs for more excitement than her small world provides,  but when the monotony of her life is finally broken it isn't glamorous excitement that she finds.  First her youngest cousin disappears, then the one that's living with her runs off to join a questionable cause in his search for glory, a cause that ends up ruining the lives of many and leaves Anna with a difficult decision.  How much is she willing to sacrifice to do what she knows to be right?  How can you help someone who doesn't want to be helped?  Anna isn't sure what to do, but whatever she decides she knows that her life will never be the same again.

Rocks My Socks: Leeds obviously did her research on the book, down to the smallest details (who knew they hadn't invented pockets yet?)  and it makes for a very interesting read .  I didn't know much about life in the Middle Ages, so it was fun to see daily life in a small town re-created.  I also found the description of the crusade leading to the mass murdering of Jewish communities compelling and it was an aspect of history that I had never heard about before.  I enjoyed the interaction between Anna and the Jewish girl, Leah.  It brought up some interesting and valuable issues for teens to explore.  I also like them both separately as characters. Anna's commitment to do what is right in the face of a society that is wrong is inspiring and Leah's commitment to her people and her traditions even at a time of such turmoil is admirable. 

Rocks In My Socks: The summary on the jacket made it sound like the focus of the book was the relationship between Anna and Leah, which is why I picked it up, but most of it was actually just description of Anna's daily life.  Leah doesn't even really appear until halfway through the book, and even then she's written out of the storyline before the end.  The part of the book dealing with their relationship also seemed a bit overly sentimental to me at times, but I don't have much of a sweet tooth as far as my fiction goes so it's easy for a book to get overly saccharine for my tastes.  It might have seemed more realistic and justified to me if Leeds taken more time on this part of the narrative to really develop their relationship over time. The ending was also wrapped up a bit too easily and neatly for me.

Every Book Its Reader:  I'd recommend the book to middle to high school students with an interest in the Middle Ages.  I think this book would also make an interesting companion piece to a unit on Anne Frank.  The book does revolve around female characters, but I don't think that the book is overly girly.

The Silver Cup by Constance Leeds

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