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Adam of the Road recreates the people and places of thirteenth-century England in vivid detail. The novel evokes a sense of the continuity of history, of its flow from one time to another. As Gray said in her Newbery acceptance speech, "...a sense of history helps us to understand the present and plan the future, and that on the worth and dignity of the individual human being our civilization with its conception of freedom is based." Medieval England unfolds through the lives of characters who populate the abbey, the castle, the inn, the farmhouse, the university, and, especially, the open road. The wide variety of characters includes minstrels, preachers, peddlers, millers, plowmen, merchants, innkeepers, knights, and noblemen.

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Following the adventures of a boy, his dog, and his father on the byways and highways, Adam of the Road shows the inhabitants of medieval England to be real people with many of the same problems as people of today, experiencing the same human desires for individuality, for happiness, and for freedom.

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