What I’m Reading

The Inquisitor’s Tale Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog


by Adam Gidwitz

Illuminated by Hatem Aly

Published by Dutton Children’s Books, 2016


The Inquisitor’s Tale won a Newbery Honor Medal in 2017. It was not a book I couldn’t put down. Why didn’t I love this book? It had many good reasons for me to enjoy it:

  • the setting: medieval France in 1262
  • many authentic people, events, and places (even ones I’d been to, like Mont St. Michel)
  • a saintly dog
  • three smart children
  • fabulous illuminations in the margins
  • magic and miracles

So I’ve been pondering why The Inquisitor’s Tale didn’t grab me. The best explanation I’ve come up with is that I didn’t care enough about the main characters or love them.

So maybe you’ll read the book and tell me how you like it.

the inquisitors tale



Tangled Magic at the Unison Fair


If you missed us at the Unison Art, Craft, and Design Fair last weekend, you can snag a book at Saturday’s New Paltz DeFacto Community Project Fair.


Where: New Paltz Community Center

                       3 Veteran’s Drive, New Paltz, NY 12561

When: Saturday, December 9th

Time:  10:00 a.m.

On Saturday and Sunday, we sold some books, met a lot of cool people, and saw some fabulous crafts and artwork.  Unfortunately, Miss Saachi was asked to leave, due to her fur coat.




Are Dwarves Evil?


-my sketch of the dwarf Morg, in Book II of the Karakesh Chronicles

As I read about dwarves, I find the most interesting and creepy information in the descriptions of their origins.  The Norse mythology has dwarves either being created from the blood and bones of the giant Ymir, from whose flesh came the Earth. Even creepier is the other Norse myth that has the dwarves originating as maggot-like beings devouring the giant’s corpse.

Dwarves may go back as far as the beginnings of monuments like Stonehenge. Could their skill in stonework point to dwarves as the possible creators of the standing stones found throughout Europe?


Dwarves are found in both Germanic and Scandinavian legends. The Germanic dwarves live in mountains and underground. They are known for their skills in mining, smithing, and crafting, and have a reputation for wisdom. In the Germanic tradition, dwarves may have originated as nature spirits and healers, and some sources consider them a type of faerie. The concept of dwarves’ appearance depicts them as short, hairy, and ugly, but these characteristics may only be a recent development.


Scandinavian dwarves are metalworkers with a more sinister association with death. In some stories, dwarves guard the mountain doorways between the two worlds. They live in subterranean kingdoms full of treasure, and have magical skills, are able to forge enchanted swords and rings, and can make themselves invisible.


In both traditions, dwarves can be friendly to men, but if crossed, they are likely to seek revenge. They are also reputed to abduct children and young girls.


In my Karakesh Chronicles, the dwarves buy children to use as slaves in their mines. But not all dwarves in the Kingdom of Karakesh are immoral or evil. In Book II, the pureblood dwarves use the healing powers of gemstones to help others.


Which way do we spell it: dwarfs or dwarves? J.R.R. Tolkein, our supreme source of heroic dwarves, formed the second plural in error, and let it remain.

So what do you think? Are dwarves evil…or not?


dwarves by julie dillon

by Julie Dillon (online)