The Trumpeter of Krakow

by Eric P. Kelly

Paperback, 1992



Local notes

PB Kel




Aladdin (1992), Edition: Reissue, 224 pages


A Polish family in the Middle Ages guards a great secret treasure and a boy's memory of an earlier trumpeter of Krakow makes it possible for him to save his father.


Newbery Medal (Medal Winner — 1929)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

224 p.; 5.13 inches

Media reviews

Recorded Books
Recorded Books (Recorded Books, LLC.) It is late July in 1461 when young Joseph Charnetski and his family arrive in the great city of Krakow, with its glorious church towers and lively marketplace. The Charnetskis have come to Krakow to seek refuge with their relatives. What they find is more
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danger and adventure than a simple farm boy like Joseph could ever have imagined. First, a menacing stranger tries to take their pumpkin at sword point. Then a beautiful girl and her black-robed uncle befriend Joseph. Soon he and his family are caught up in the plots of alchemists, hypnotists, and a dark messenger of evil. This distinguished contribution to children’s literature carries listeners to a medieval Poland shimmering with folklore and fantasy. Rich in language and detail, it is a classic adventure story that begs to be read aloud. With narrator Ron Keith’s expressive, resonant voice, the effect is as stirring as the haunting hymn the trumpeter plays from the church tower. n.d., Recorded Books, Unabridged Cassette - Library Edition; 95834, $51.75. Ages 10 to 14.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member ladycato
I read this for the first time since I was in my teens. It is very much a book of the period it was written, being the 1920s. The villains are all disabled and/or disfigured, the women and girls shallow props to bolster the roles of the valiant leading males. That said, the voice of the book is
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eloquent and beautiful, and the author's deep love of the city of Krakow is evident on most every page. It's easy to see why this was the Newberry Award winner in 1929.

The adventure story is a rollicking one, cozy in its predictability, but hey--sometimes it's nice to know the bad guys are certain to know justice, with the good guys eventually rewarded for their stalwart suffering. This isn't a book I would re-read because it is so painfully dated, but it made for an interesting choice for my classic book for the month.
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LibraryThing member CathyLeming
I did not read this book until the 1990's, when a Polish friend loaned it to me. I've never forgotten the spirit of this book. A must read, in my opinion.
LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
This was a well realized historical story of medieval Krakow. I enjoyed the legend/history of the trumpeter role of watchman and herald and found the story of the Tarnov Crystal interesting as well. Other points of interest included descriptions of the what the city was like during those time,
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cultural issues such as threat of fire, medieval witchcraft and the state of science.
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LibraryThing member juliette07
This book was the 1929 Newbery Medal winner. Set in 1461 the story begins as a father tells his son the story of the trumpeter of Krakow. The latter died at the hands of the Tartars while playing his piece from a church tower. This proves to be the inspiration for the young boy as he and his father
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are pursued by a ruthless mercenary.
Some of the descriptive writing was very enjoyable at first and the telling of the original legend promised much. However my interest then waned and despite some interesting descriptions of a number of cultural aspects along with the story surrounding the Crystal that the boy and his father were guarding this was not a Newbery winner I would wholeheartedly recommend.
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LibraryThing member Turrean
A thrilling tale, if you can get past the stilted language and wooden characters. (I couldn't.) I also wanted an explanation for the presence of a pumpkin as a key part of the plot set in Poland in 1461, since pumpkins are native to America, and would not have reached Europe until years later.
LibraryThing member jjmcgaffey
Started out well - the prologue explaining the Broken Hymn made me cry. After that, it wasn't bad, but somehow it seemed too simplistic. Well, it is a children's book. Interesting descriptions of the town and of people's clothes and goods.
LibraryThing member kcslade
Good juvenile novel about a boy who helped save Krakow, Poland in the Middle Ages.
LibraryThing member TrgLlyLibrarian
Intrigue and sorcery in medieval Poland. What more do you need?
LibraryThing member sparrowtlw
The Trumpeter of Krakow as won the Newbery award. This story takes place in Poland in the 1400s. This story tells of an adventure that a young boy and his family take together. The start of this adventure started generations early when the family took an oath to protect treasure until it can be
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handed over the king of Poland. While honoring this oath, the family has come across several trails as the move to a new town, where they continued to meet new trails. During this time the father took another oath, this time to honor a long stand tradition of sounding the trumpet at the church tower to signal the hour, every hour of the day and night. The father teaches the son how to play the hymn that the trumpeters are to play at each hour, in case one day the father is unable to play it. That day comes when the father and son are in trouble as someone want to steal the treasure that they protected, the son played the trumpet but changed it up enough that someone would know that they were in trouble. In short this story is about the faithfulness of a family carrying out a family oath that has been passed down the generations.
Personal reflection:
I enjoyed this book; however, it was a little hard get into the book due to the language that it is written in. The language however helps set the setting of the story. I am afraid that students would find it hard to read the book. If they can get past the language, they will enjoy the adventure this story as to offer. It will also help them later to read more of the classics that are required to read in high school.
Extension Ideas:
I would like to have the student write a story of an adventure that they have taken or would like to take.
I would have the students look up words that they may not know and write a sentence with that word.
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LibraryThing member foggidawn
In medieval Poland, a mysterious jewel is stolen, a family is displaced, and an alchemist seeks the secret of transmuting base metals to gold. This book won the Newbery back in 1929, and I do see some distinguished elements -- the writing is good, though a little more flowery than is common these
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days, and there's an interesting plot if you can get through all of the descriptive bits. The characters aren't particularly fleshed out (the alchemist, a secondary character, was probably the most interesting to me). I had a hard time staying engaged with the narrative, so it took me several days to get through this book. Would I recommend it to kids today? Probably only if I had one who was really fascinated with medieval stories.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Set in the chaotic world of medieval Poland, Eric P. Kelly's The Trumpeter of Krakow is an exciting tale of adventure and intrigue for young readers, following the fortunes of the Charnetski family, as they struggle to fulfill a vow made generations before, by one of their ancestors. Fleeing from
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the raiding Tatars who attacked their estate in the Ukraine, Pan Andrew Charnetski, his wife, and his fifteen-year-old son, Joseph, seek refuge in the city of Krakow. Here, finding their relations absent, and an audience with the king impossible, the family settle, assisted by the kind monk and scholar, Jan Kanty, and living under an assumed name. But their enemies have not given up, and soon they find themselves threatened once again...

Originally published in 1928, and awarded the Newbery Medal, Kelly's debut novel is an engaging blend of historical fiction and fantastic adventure, incorporating both historical figures - King Jagiello, good Jan Kanty - and legendary ones, like the city's dragon-fighting founder, King Krakus. The widespread belief in magic and alchemy in fifteenth-century Poland (as seen in such magical folktales as The Magician of Cracow), proves crucial to the story, which revolves around the fate of the Great Tarnov Crystal - a priceless jewel with strange properties.

I enjoyed The Trumpeter of Krakow, from the prologue explaining the origin of the broken heynal, to the concluding passages, in which Kelly wraps up his story, and tells the reader what happened afterward. Well-written and entertaining, it flowed nicely and kept my attention - I enjoyed learning a little more about Polish history and folklore. Definitely one of the better Newbery Medal titles from the 1920s, I would recommend it to young readers with a taste for historical fiction.
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