Monday, October 22, 2018

The Book of Boy (ISBN: 978-0062686206; Hardcover $16.99 Ages 8-12; 288 pages) by bestselling author Catherine Gilbert Murdock [Giveaway USA/CANADA]

Welcome to Day #1 of The Book of Boy Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (on shelves now!), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Catherine, plus 5 chances to win a copy of The Book of Boy!

Getting Real: Fact versus Fiction versus Fantasy in The Book of Boy 
by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Dear Teacher: Please, please let your students read The Book of Boy as history! Yes, I know the story has fantasy elements—marvelous, fantastical fantasy that will lure them in and wrap them in a wonderful tale. But most of the book is fact. Cold, documented, years-of-research fact. Your students will learn more about medieval life with The Book of Boy than a shelf of encyclopedias. 

For example: travel. I now know as much about medieval travel as anyone in my area code. I know whether and how bridges existed, the best routes from France to Rome, the nature and security of sea travel, the (dis)comforts of inns, and the condition of highways. Reading between the lines of The Book of Boy, a student will find out that roads were generally terrible so most people traveled by foot because horses were expensive and wheeled vehicles couldn’t manage the mud. Travelers often slept on the floor; if you managed to find an inn with a mattress, you’d have to share it with your companions or even strangers, and the sheets certainly wouldn’t be clean. 

Clothing, currency, pilgrimage, trade, hygiene, the plague . . . all these are spot-on. There really was an earthquake in Rome in 1349 that destroyed most of the churches. The popes really did flee (or were captured, depending on whether you’re French or Italian) to Avignon, where they reigned for almost a century in an enormous castle with secret compartments in the floor. Perhaps a third of the population died of the Black Death, but at the time they called it only “pestilence.” The survivors stumbled onward, marrying like mad (often outside their station, like Sir Jacques and Cook in The Book of Boy) in an attempt to return to normalcy, or at least an attempt to fake normalcy. 

What did I make up? Well, the characters of course, though professional relic thieves existed. I took liberties describing the ruined churches of Rome because we don’t have actual descriptions. We know St. John Lateran burned in 1308, was rebuilt in the next decades, then collapsed in the 1349 earthquake. I extrapolate the char marks. 

My biggest falsehood relates to the relics of Saint Peter. Secundus sets out to collect rib, tooth, thumb, shin . . . but in reality these relics never left Rome. “You are the rock upon which I shall build my church,” Jesus tells Peter in the Bible, and Christians took that seriously. They built a magnificent cathedral over Peter’s tomb, which they sealed beneath the floor. Yes, the skull was moved to the nearby cathedral of St. John Lateran, and yes, medieval pilgrims believed that half Peter’s body rested at the nearby cathedral of St. Paul. Thus all the remains of Saint Peter remained in the city, the very foundation of the Church. 

Thomas J. Craughwell, St. Peter’s Bones: How the Relics of the First Pope were Lost and Found . . . and Then Lost and Found Again, 2013. 
Patrick Geary, Sacra Furta: Theft of Relics in the Middle Ages, 1978. 
Paul Hetheringrton, Medieval Rome: A Portrait of the City and its Life, 1994. 
Paul B. Newman, Travel and Trade in the Middle Ages, 2011. 
Jeffry L. Singman, Daily Life in Medieval Europe, 1999. 


Blog Tour Schedule:

October 22nd –  Chat With Vera
October 23rd – Christy's Cozy Corners
October 24th – Beach Bound Books
October 25th – Java John Z's
October 26th – Bookhounds

A young outcast is swept up into a thrilling and perilous medieval treasure hunt in this literary page-turner by acclaimed bestselling author Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

This epic and engrossing quest story is for fans of Adam Gidwitz’s The Inquisitor’s Tale and Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and for readers of all ages. Features a map and black-and-white art by Ian Schoenherr throughout.

Boy has always been relegated to the outskirts of his small village. With a large hump on his back, a mysterious past, and a tendency to talk to animals, he is often mocked by others in his town—until the arrival of a shadowy pilgrim named Secondus. Impressed with Boy’s climbing and jumping abilities, Secondus engages Boy as his servant, pulling him into an action-packed and suspensful expedition across Europe to gather the seven precious relics of Saint Peter.

Boy quickly realizes this journey is not an innocent one. They are stealing the relics and accumulating dangerous enemies in the process. But Boy is determined to see this pilgrimage through until the end—for what if St. Peter can make Boy’s hump go away? A surprising and unforgettable tale for readers of all ages.

Praise for The Book of Boy

* “Scuffles and sacrifices, ferocious animals, and dastardly thieves abound as Boy and Secundus are slowly revealed to readers—and each other. This is also a beautiful piece of bookmaking, from the woodblock-style design elements to the manuscript-like paper. A vivid, not-to-be-missed story.”
Booklist STARRED review

* “Light and darkness have never clashed with such fierce majesty and eloquent damnation. Murdock weaves an engrossing tale. ...Blend epic adventure with gothic good and evil, and add a dash of sly wit for a tale that keeps readers turning the page.”
Kirkus STARRED review

* “Fresh, immediate, and earthy: the fakery, the faith, the embedded stories, the escapades. The story is beautifully served by its package...Most remarkable and unusual is the character of Boy, a complex and compelling being whose defining quality is goodness.”
Horn Book STARRED review

About the Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock lives in Philadelphia with her husband, two brilliant, unicycling children, several cats, and a one-acre yard that she is slowly transforming into a wee but flourishing ecosystem.


  • One (1) winner will receive a copy of The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
  • US/Canada addresses only
  • Begins Oct. 22 and ends Nov. 12 at 12:01 a.m EDT
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book from MMPublicity on behalf of the publisher. Book information and materials for this post are provided the MMPublicity. The giveaway is unique to Chat With Vera blog with winner's copy being provided by and sent directly to the winner by MMPublicity or the publisher.


  1. "Do you enjoy reading books set in the medieval time period? What do you like or dislike about reading period books of this nature?" The medieval period is a favorite of mine--"High Gothic" or "International Gothic" art is some of the most beautiful and sophisticated that has ever been made! I definitely like to imagine myself living in another age!

  2. "Watch this YouTube video and leave a comment about 1 thing you learn from the author...." The animals in the book are based on real-life animals the author has known.--I love the fact that the cat is based on the author's beautiful cat Daphne!

  3. I enjoy books set in a medieval time period, both fiction and non-fiction. I'm always struck by how similar some things are compared to today.

  4. I enjoy books that touch on this time period no issues

  5. I enjoy reading books in historic time periods because I learn so much!

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  6. This looks fascinating! Thanks for sharing at Booknificent Thursday on!

  7. From the youtube video I learned that there are donkeys that exist that are almost the size of horses & have lots of long hair.

  8. I love all the historical details that are included in stories set in other time periods. While medieval is not my favorite historical time period, I still enjoy reading stories set during that time.

  9. It's a time period that's far away and very foreign.

  10. I like reading books set in the Medieval Time period. I like learning about life back then.

  11. I love reading books set in Medieval times because it teaches about our history

  12. I learned the author has a big black mastiff!


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