Sunday, November 6, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Crusade in Jeans by Thea Beckman

About The Book: Fifteen-year-old Dolf uses a prototype time machine and gets stuck in the Middle Ages. Trying to find his way back to the twentieth century, he joins a children's crusade of almost ten thousand children on their way to the Holy Land. Dolf helps the children defy the terrible mountains, conquer disease and fight evil knights. Slowly, Dolf begins to realize that the real danger does not lurk behind the next mountaintop, but rather within the crusade itself.

Crusade in Jeans was first published in 1973. It became an

Dutch Version
 overnight success, making Thea Beckman one of the most popular authors of juvenile books in Europe. In 1974, Crusade in Jeans was awarded The Golden Pen (the most prestigious Dutch national award for children's books). In 1976, the Province of Trento, Italy, named it the Best European Historical Juvenile Book. In 2006, the book was turned in an award-winning movie picture featuring Emma Watson, Michael Culkin, Joe Flynn and Stephanie Leonidas. Awards included top honors at Toronto Sprockets (2008) and the Children’s Jury Award at the Chicago International Film Festival (2007).

First Line: "And this," said Dr. Simak,"is the material-transmitter."

Dolf's observation of Medieval Times: "What dark recesses were hidden in the pious souls of these people of the Middle Ages? How easily they renounced responsibility for their deeds! It was God who ruled the world, not them. They unhesitatingly declared God or the Devil to be responsible for their deepest emotions, their desires for revenge or their illusions." (104)

What Others Are Saying: All I could find were reviews related to the original translation and movie.

What  I Thought: Time travel has always fascinated me ever since I saw Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reed. If I were to have the choice to go back in time I'd like the fashion of the 20's-30's because my beads always hang straight, classy hair of the 40's and the world of the mid-nineties when my house was worth something. Seriously, time travel to the days of plagues and no running water has never been attractive and no amount of sword action could coax me to leave the comfort of clean clothes and deodorant. I do enjoy reading about it and this definitely plunged my imagination into an adventure. These crusading children found themselves up against, nature, evil, hunger and disease. Dolf is forced to accept the mindset of the time and work within it's constraints and yet he still comes out respecting and appreciating the wonderful friends that he makes. I would say this is a difficult read for younger middle grade and many of the scenes seem repetitive and pacing slow. I understand that the English translation from Dutch isn't that great and leaves out humor that the Dutch version had.

Author: Thea Beckman
2006 Motion Picture

Thea Beckman (1923-2004) was born in Rotterdam. She began writing in 1947, but it was not until her children were grown that she devoted herself to writing full time. Ms. Beckman was fascinated by history and wrote books about many historical periods ranging from the Middle Ages and extending into to the future.

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  1. Thanks for sharing about this. I might like to see the movie. I agree that I would not want to go back to the crusades.

  2. Oh my! Will be sure to check this one out....thanks for sharing it!

  3. What an original selection for MMGM! I have never heard of this book, but your review is fascinating! Thanks, Pam. :-)

  4. This sounds like a great book, but the cover looks like either a Calvin Klein ad or the packaging on a set of naughty playing cards for gay men. Is that really the cover?! I'd love to see the movie though.

  5. Thanks for reviewing this. I've never heard of it.

  6. Oh wow, Pam! I've never heard of this either. Thanks for highlighting an older book.

    I love time travel too. My favorite is out of print: VOICES AFTER MIDNIGHT by Richard Peck.

  7. I've never heard of this book, I'm really excited to read it. I'm a sucker for time travel too. I'd want to hit victorian times and see a real Shakespeare play.

  8. Yay for time travel! Thanks for reviewing this one, Pam.

  9. OOOH! Saw this in the side bar. I actually have an ancient copy of this in my library, and I keep it for the small number of avid fantasy fans I have. Glad to see someone else has read it!


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