cover image Bartholomew Fair

Bartholomew Fair

Mary Stolz. Greenwillow Books, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-688-09522-2

It's the twilight of the long reign of Elizabeth I, and just outside the city of London the Bartholomew Fair is drawing to a close. Half a dozen people--from a scullery maid to the queen herself--dearly wish to attend the final day's festivities. Accomplished storyteller Stolz weaves the threads of these six disparate lives (each chosen for the stratum of society he or she represents) into a compelling tale brimming with the traditions, pageantry and daily routine of Elizabethan life. Her characters are each granted their common wish, and eventually make their way to the merry chaos of the fairgrounds, which provides a backdrop to one of the book's more poignant storylines, in which an urchin apprentice finds a home and love. Stolz's rich broth of prose is peppered with colorful terms and phrases that both add to the story's authenticity as well as respect the reader's ability to garner information from context. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)