cover image Pangur Ban

Pangur Ban

Mary Stolz. HarperCollins Publishers, $13.95 (182pp) ISBN 978-0-06-025861-0

Cormac knows he isn't suited to be a farmer like his father; he loves to draw, and dreams of learning to read and write. But in the harsh world of 9th century Ireland, the monastery is the only place where such a life is possible. So he rejoices when Abbot Maher accepts him as an oblate. As a professed monk 17 years later, Cormac is hard at work creating a book on the life of Saint Patrick. When Viking raiders are sighted off the coast, he hides the manuscript in the woods, where for three centuries it lies undiscovered until another young monk stumbles upon it. This quietly rewarding tale will leave readers with a vivid impression of the world before the arrival of the printing press. Although Cormac sometimes seems a bit too good to be true (he is talented, nonviolent and perhaps his era's only feminist) he is on the whole an appealing character. More important, he is one of the heroes in the battle to keep learning alive. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 12-up. (October)