Candlewick Press, 2011. 978-0763650940
Winner of the 2008 John Newbery Medal
Synopsis: Ever wondered about life in a Medieval village? Ever wanted to meet varlets, vermin, simpletons, and saints? You will meet many of these characters and more in these twenty-two monologues that tell the reader about what it takes to survive in the Middle Ages and give insight about the people and places of Medieval England.
Why I picked it up: I loved Splendors and Glooms and was eager to read some of Schlitz’s other works.
Why I finished it: This is a beautifully written and illustrated book that is designed to be performed, read aloud, or read alone. It gives each of the persons who would have lived in a Medieval village a unique voice and a unique story that doesn’t come across in a lot of the nonfiction books written on the same subject. Schlitz creates parts for everyone: the shepherdess, the beggar, the tanner, the lords, the millers, the moneylenders, and everyone in between. It gives insight into each of the relationships between the different professions and class statuses during the Middle Ages and the difficulties each of them encounters in their day-to-day life. There are even some little asides that give greater insight into life in the Middle Ages, the Crusades, the professions, and the popular sports of the day. Byrd’s illustrations harken back to the woodcuttings so prevalent in illuminated manuscripts of the day, and each of the pictures come alive with vibrant colors to highlight the actions of the persons frozen in time. It is a charming collection that’s a fast but intriguing read for all ages.
Other related materials: The Horrible, Miserable Middle Ages: The Disgusting Details About Life During Medieval Times by Kathy Allen; The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman; Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess by Richard Platt, illustrated by Chris Riddell; Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction by David Macaulay; Castle by David Macaulay; Mill by David Macaulay; You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Medieval Night!: Armor You’d Rather Not Wear by Fiona Macdonald, illustrated by David Antram; You’d Wouldn’t Want to Be a Crusader!: A War You’d Rather Not Fight by Fiona Macdonald; illustrated by Mark Bergin; You Wouldn’t Want to Be Joan of Arc!: A Mission You Might Want to Miss by Fiona Macdonald, illustrated by David Antram; The Making of a Knight by Patrick O’Brien; Re-Discovering Medieval Realms: Britain 1066-1500 by Barbera Brown, edited by Colin Shephard; The Knight’s Tales series by Gerald Morris, illustrated by Aaron Renier; The Apprentice by Pilar Molina Llorente, illustrated by Juan Ramon Alonso