Book Review: Adam of the Road

Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray
Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray

Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray in a Newbery Award winner for 1943.  Here we meet Adam, a boy of 11 who is a minstrel’s son in the thirteenth century in England. When we meet Adam, he is staying at a monastery while awaiting his father, Roger, to pick him up after Roger travels to France for his job. Here, Adam has a dog named Nick to accompany him.

Roger returns and Adam and Roger embark together on the road since minstrel’s had to travel to earn a living. Along this road, Adam’s dog, Nick, is stolen by another minstrel who feels he’s been cheated of his horse by Roger. Now, both Adam and Roger are on the trail of the other minstrel to get Nick back.

Along this trail, Adam loses Roger when he goes chasing after Nick in another town. Now, Adam has to find his father, Roger, and his dog, Nick.

Admittedly, this book slows down leading up to the major plot twist (Adam doesn’t lose Nick until almost half-way through the book), and then the pace quickens while one setback after another happens to Adam. This book is good for purely historical reference. An 11 year old boy is galavanting across England by himself, looking for his dog and his father. This, of course, would not happen nowadays (at least not for long before the authorities stepped in), so this fact itself makes this book interesting. Adam is self-sufficient. He takes care of himself. He procures his own food. He is focused on finding his father and his dog and won’t stop he does.

In the end (very end), Adam finds both and all is well. He is offered a chance to stay at Oxford college, but he turns it down to be on the road (not a wise choice). One other little fact that is often confusing to children (and me) as you read this book: Adam calls his father Roger throughout the entire book and since Adam is the narrator, he’s constantly talking about Roger, which is weird to us nowadays and makes the book hard to follow in the beginning.

Adam of the Road is recommended but because it was written decades ago and about 75 pages needs to be cut where nothing happens, it’s not highly recommended as a Newbery winner. It’s got great historical value and the pace does pick up and is exciting to the end.