Saturday, January 17, 2015

Brother Hugo and the Bear

 Cover image for Brother Hugo and the bear
Brother Hugo and the Bear
By Katy Beebe
Illustrated by S. D. Schindler
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2014. Picture Book

A monk, Brother Hugo, is sad to report to the Abbot that a bear has eaten the monastery's copy of the letters of St Augustine. The abbot insists that, for his penance, Brother Hugo must borrow a copy of the book from another monastery, and make a new copy of it for his monastery's library.  It is a big project to make a new manuscript copy of a book but Brother Hugo has help from his brother monks.  At last the copy is finished, but Brother Hugo is worried. The bear has now acquired a taste for books, so how will Brother Hugo safely return the copy he borrowed?  This is a charming historical fiction picture book inspired by an actual incident.  It is written by a professor of medieval history and contains interesting and accurate facts about how medieval manuscripts were made. The factual information, however,  does not overpower the engaging and funny story.  The some pages of the book are illustrated in the style of an illuminated manuscript, and the language suggests writing styles of the period. What a fun addition to a unit on the medieval period for early and middle grade students.

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