Best 1972 Adventures (7)

By: Joshua Glenn
October 11, 2017

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1972 adventure novels. Happy 45th anniversary!


Peter Dickinson’s YA historical adventure The Dancing Bear.

When barbarous Huns attack Byzantium, they carry off Ariadne, a wealthy young woman. Sylvester, a young slave in Ariadne’s household, bravely journeys into Hun territory on rescue mission. (He is also fleeing powerful Byzantines who know that he witnessed their treachery.) Our hero is accompanied by Holy John — a dirty, epileptic, narcissistic household saint, who wants to convert the Huns — and by Bubba, the dancing she-bear. Holy John’s interpretations of God’s wishes often save the day; and he is able to persuade the Hun’s leader that Bubba is an incarnation of the Holy Spirit. Bubba, too, is a wonderful, loving, loyal character — the best bear in literature? Readers young and old will appreciate Dickinson’s self-deprecating humor regarding the effort of conjuring up a historical era in all its social, cultural, political complexity.

Fun fact: Dickinson published almost fifty books, including one of the best YA sci-fi series of all time: The Changes trilogy (1968–1970).


Let me know if I’ve missed any 1972 adventures that you particularly admire.


Adventure, Lit Lists