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The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly (Newbery Medal Winner)
Simon and Schuster
Number of pages:


Set in 15th century Poland, The Trumpeter of Krakow is the story of a young boys admiration for the bravery of a long-dead youth and how this encourages him to remain loyal to his country, in the face of great danger.

Forced to abandon their farm to the invading Tartars, Joseph Charnetski and his parents flee to Krakow with the only thing that they managed to salvage a priceless family heirloom called the Great Tarnov Crystal. Reputed to have strange magical powers that will guarantee victory to anyone who possesses it, the Crystal must be delivered to the king before it falls into the wrong hands. Only the inspiring example of the young trumpeter to Krakow, who met his death when he alerted the city to an invasion by the Tartars, gives Joseph the courage he needs to complete his mission.

Strong points:

  • The story builds character by the examples of virtue, the bravery of a boy, the kindness of Jan Kanty.
  • It portrays magic as evil (contrary to the current message of the Harry Potter series).
  • The story exposes the reader to geography lessons (the Ukraine, Poland, the Tartars).
  • Good Jan Kanty is actually Saint John Kenty whose feast day is October 20th.


  • The Muslims do not adore the same God as Catholics since they reject the Trinity (contrary to page 19).
  • Men and women were never beheaded "for a very slight offence" in a Catholic country (contrary to page 23).
  • Medieval Catholic scholars (such as St. Albert the Great) perfectly knew the distinction between science and magic (contrary to page 161).


The Trumpeter of Krakow is a story with a very good plot and a great climax.