If I’m being perfectly honest, I did not go into this book with the highest of expectations. Papercutz is not the most culturally sensitive of publishers (and not in a malicious way, just in a, perhaps, homogenous viewpoints sort of way,) so I was definitely braced for the worst as a Muslim reader and mom.
So it was a pleasant surprise to discover the even tone and dry humor of this terrific kid-friendly examination of the wars that roiled Europe and the Middle East/North Africa for three centuries. Our modern-day narrators are Annie and Nico. Annie is an excellent storyteller and guide as she explains to the younger Nico the ins and outs, dates and places, people and anecdotes of the many engagements that formed the Crusades (tho she does skip mentioning the Children’s Crusade, which is probably for the best.) I learned so much more about the Crusades than I’d known before reading this slender volume, in large part due to how Annie cleanly and simply broke it all down for Nico. The language used is very easy to follow, with definitions included for tougher words. Kudos to translator Joseph Laredo for making the text sound as if it was actually written in English instead of the original French!
Sylvain Savoia’s wonderful art complements Fabrice Erre’s thoughtful script perfectly, with clean lines and a delightful expressiveness that lends a playfulness to what could otherwise feel like heavy going. He’s the kind of artist whose drawings you can hear, even though/while the script is saying lots of other interesting things, too. It’s a combination of eloquence that really serves the material well.
I can’t stress enough how great it was to read a popular explanation of the Crusades that wasn’t at all jingoistic or biased while still managing to be respectful and humorous. Mssrs Erre & Savoia have done a wonderful thing with this volume, and I can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone of any age who’s interested in a quick primer on these historical wars.
Magical History Tour #4: The Crusades by Fabrice Erre & Sylvain Savoia was published today August 10 2021 by Papercutz and is available from all good booksellers, including