Avi brings the Middle Ages to life in Newberry Medal winner Crispin: The Cross of Lead. When the thirteen-year-old peasant boy, known only as “Asta’s son”, is orphaned, the vicious estate steward, John Aycliffe, falsely accuses the boy of theft, marking him as a “wolf’s head”, a bandit who can legally be slain by anyone who apprehends him. The boy’s only friend is the village priest, who gives him a lead cross that was once his mother’s, telling him that his true name is Crispin. When the priest is murdered, Crispin is forced to flee. Desperate and hungry, he is saved by a traveling juggler called Bear, who initially makes Crispin his servant, but ultimately offers Crispin his freedom and the opportunity to be his apprentice. The two slowly become friends, traveling on to the town of Great Wexly, where Aycliffe and his men have pursued Crispin and his protector. This tantalizing adventure continues to unfold in Avi’s characteristically compelling novel, and is especially stirring for middle school readers interested in medieval times.