The Sil­ver Cup

Con­stance Leeds
  • Review
By – December 16, 2011
Sto­ries about out­siders have always been pop­u­lar in children’s lit­er­a­ture. This book of his­tor­i­cal fic­tion takes us back to the 11th cen­tu­ry where two out­casts — one Catholic, the oth­er Jew­ish — are brought togeth­er through a series of vio­lent events. It is the time of the first Cru­sade, where maraud­ing bands of hooli­gans are attack­ing help­less Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties along the Rhine. It is a time when the type of peo­ple who believe that Jews have horns on their heads allow ram­pant loot­ing, rape, and mur­der with­in their com­mu­ni­ties. Anna, a moth­er­less Catholic girl, risks every­thing to res­cue Leah, whose only con­nec­tion to her slaugh­tered Jew­ish fam­i­ly is a sil­ver cup. After some unease and mis­un­der­stand­ing, they forge an unex­pect­ed friend­ship. The author has done excel­lent research into the time peri­od. She paints a con­vinc­ing pic­ture of vil­lage and town life in 1096. She uses his­tor­i­cal details about food (skin­ning eels!), hous­ing, cloth­ing, herbal med­i­cine, and trans­porta­tion as an inte­gral part of the nar­ra­tive. Although there are a few places where judi­cious cut­ting would have been help­ful, this book has a fast­paced plot, with some believ­able char­ac­ters and con­vinc­ing details. Ages 12 – 14.
Anne Dublin is the teacher-librar­i­an at Holy Blos­som Tem­ple in Toron­to, Cana­da and an award-win­ning author of books for chil­dren and young adults. Her lat­est book is June Call­wood: A Life of Action (Sec­ond Sto­ry Press, 2006).

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