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A Company of Fools [Hardcover]

Deborah Ellis
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Sept. 11 2002

Canadian Library Association Book of the Year, Honour Book

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction, Honour Book

Mr. Christie Silver Book Award

Ruth Schwartz Award, finalist

Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award, nominee

Rocky Mountain Book Award, nominee

Before Micah came to St. Luc's, he knew how to beg, how to steal, and how to run from a beating. He did not know how to comb his hair, walk in line when he felt like running, or obey anyone's whim but his own. He was a stranger in a strange land. If it had been me, I would have found a way to disappear inside myself until the strangeness wore off.

Micah was not like me.

Henri has been living within abbey walls all his life, first in the care of nuns, then as a choirboy at St. Luc's, not far from Paris. He expects to spend the rest of his life there, copying books in the Scriptorium with the other brothers, and singing Mass in the great cathedral.

Then Micah arrives, a streetwise ragamuffin with the voice of an angel, saved from certain hanging to sing for God instead of coins. Micah comes like a fresh breeze into dead places, bringing exuberant joy at a time when Henri most needs it.

For the plague is coming, the grim reaper that will slash at the very roots of Henri's security. And neither Henri nor Micah nor anyone else in their world will ever be the same.


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Product Description

From Amazon

Deborah Ellis, the bestselling author of The Breadwinner and Parvana's Journey, reaches back to the 14th century for a haunting story about the survival of joy in the midst of human misery. Set in 1348, the year the Black Death first swept through France, A Company of Fools is vividly narrated by a young choirboy at the Abbey of St. Luc, near Paris. Quiet and sickly, Henri has been with the monks since he was 5 years old, when it became apparent that his sea-captain father was not coming back. "I'd spent all my life around choirs and music," he says, "and the sound of yet another boy raising his voice in song should have done nothing to me." But from the moment Henri hears the voice of Micah, his orderly life is never the same again.

Rescued from the gallows and brought to the abbey by a wandering Brother, Micah is a coarse, self-aggrandizing street urchin who sings like an angel. He and Henri become friends, and before long the two are performing together in one of the more bizarre theatre troupes to emerge out of the plague years. St. Luc's "Company of Fools" is supposed to make the sick laugh, to release plague victims from their pain and suffering for a few precious moments of joy. But when the crowds of Paris become convinced that Micah is a saviour whose singing can cure the Black Death, even the sheltered world of the abbey begins to crumble.

Ellis brings to her polished fourth novel the political awareness and flashes of wry humour that made her two novels about Taliban-era Afghanistan so popular with middle readers. With its accessible prose style and rich evocation of daily life in the Middle Ages, A Company of Fools offers a wonderful introduction to the pleasures of historical fiction. (Ages 9 to 13) --Lisa Alward

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. The voice of Henri, a choir student in the Abbey of St. Luc in 1348, is clear, thoughtful, and sweet as he chronicles the events of the previous year, when the Black Death came to France and when Micah came to the abbey. Brother Bartholomew is always bringing odd things back from his travels, like the muddy stick that became a rose bush. He brings filthy, noisy Micah too; the boy can sing like an angel. Henri, quiet, bookish, and in love with the order and rule of the abbey, is astonished by Micah, who does as he pleases. Then comes the plague, and Paris is no longer a place of bright wonders. Micah and Henri hatch the idea of singing to cheer the populace, so they become the Company of Fools, providing a respite from the constant funeral dirges. What happens to Micah's song, and to Henri, makes a vivid chronicle of monks, good and bad, and intentions, good and bad, set in the horrific context of a plague year. Quicksilver language and strong imagery propel a powerful historical tale. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Company of Fools Oct. 30 2002
By Joanna
Format:Hardcover
I really loved this book. It takes place in Paris, in an Abbey, where all the monks and choirboys live. There's the teacher's pet, Henri, who is a goody-two shoes. He's 12, like me, and one day he meets Micah, a criminal of the same age who has the voice of an angel. They become friends, and they do things that Henri would never have dreamed of doing if he weren't with Micah: spying on the monks, mixing a horrible tasting powder in the communion wine, etc. They become the Company of Fools, to make people laugh and have joy with the Plague all around them. It's really a very good book. Recommended ages: 12 and up
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Company of Fools Oct. 30 2002
By Joanna - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I really loved this book. It takes place in Paris, in an Abbey, where all the monks and choirboys live. There's the teacher's pet, Henri, who is a goody-two shoes. He's 12, like me, and one day he meets Micah, a criminal of the same age who has the voice of an angel. They become friends, and they do things that Henri would never have dreamed of doing if he weren't with Micah: spying on the monks, mixing a horrible tasting powder in the communion wine, etc. They become the Company of Fools, to make people laugh and have joy with the Plague all around them. It's really a very good book. Recommended ages: 12 and up
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