Articles Index  
  Patron Saints
of Education
  USA Directory  

Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray (Newbery Award Winner)
Number of pages:


This is the account of an eleven year old boy who travels the road of Medieval England, visiting town and encountering a variety of different people.

There have always been people for whom the road óany road óis not simply a cleared strip of terrain that makes travel easier. For them it is a central part of their way of life. Adamís father, Roger, a minstrel in thirteenth-century England, talks to him about the road: "It brings all kinds of people and all parts of England together. And itís home to a minstrel, even though he may happen to be sleeping in a castle." Adam has often shared the road with his father since his motherís death, and being able to feel at home there keeps him from despair when everything seems to be going wrong. Accidentally separated from his father as he tries to catch up with the man who has stolen Nick, his beloved dog, he has one adventure after another. Outgoing and cheerful, Adam manages to keep his head, learn from his misfortunes, practice patience, and depend on the road to finally bring a happy reunion.

Strong points:

  • Clear portrayal of the Medieval Life.

  • Depicts well the joys and hardships of a 13th Century youngster (In this respect, it is excellent for young modern readers whose lives are much softer in many ways.)

  • Demonstrates how the Catholic Church had an important influence on the daily lives of people and society during that age. (This is not done in an apologetic manner. Rather, happenings of the lives of the people are simply related.)

  • The virtues of patience and perseverance are well presented. Many examples are given by the main character, Adam, continuing in his efforts despite difficulties, failures and being wronged by others.

  • The variety of people met up with throughout the journey is remarkable. The book presents many good examples of relationships between people. The reactions of the boy are generally virtuous.

  • The spirit of poverty is shown by the boy, who loses many of his worldly possessions but accepts it all with good spirit.

  • The boy shows great love and respect for his father.


The only caution would be that the image sometimes given to the Catholic Church may be somewhat questionable. The priest and his sister (whom Adam meets) seem to be a bit puritanical in spirit, however, they are very virtuous. In one other instance, some priests at a school compete to see who can say the Grace Before Meals the fastest. However, this must be balanced with the favorable impression given to the Church, as a whole. Nothing scandalous is related in the book. There is no objectionable language in the book.


This book has much to offer the elementary school teacher. If it is taught with a little caution (to explain the instances cited previously as examples of clergy who may not be perfect, but who are still devoted to their duty), there should be no real problem in using this book in class. The adventure contains many lessons from which we can learn.