Thursday, July 22, 2010

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! (Newbery #2)

Author: Laura Amy Schlitz
Illustrator: Robert Byrd
Year Published: 2007
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Awards: Newbery Medal (2008)

What did you like/dislike about the book?
Laura Amy Schlitz's book, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, is a tale of 22 medieval children and their lives.  Each monologue is written from the perspective of that child.  For example, the blacksmith's daughter talks about waiting for her May Day wish to come true.  Intermingled with each monologue are several background pieces about that time period, explaining common items such as the Crusades or pilgrimages.  

My favorite detail of the book is the varied characters.  This book would be a fascinating resource for those studying the Middle Ages because of its authentic feeling.  I also enjoyed the footnotes.  These helped explain uncommon terms to the reader.

In the author's foreward, she explains that she wrote the scripts as her students were studying the Middle Ages.  Everyone wanted a part, so she decided to create monologues for each instead of trying to fit each student into a single play.

This book is appropriate for older readers.  The language would be too difficult for young readers.  It can be used to teach about medieval history, perspective, and dramatic fiction and monologues.

What in your life would have influenced this reaction/response?
I have always loved putting on plays and think this would be a good addition to an intermediate or middle school classroom collection.  Students enjoy engaging with their content and performing monologues in character would be another great way to get in tune with historical perspectives.

How does this book compare to similar books/author’s other books?
Schlitz's other titles generally include a historical slant.  Strong central characters and a slight taste of the supernatural are hallmarks of her writing.  She also deals with nature and other topics surrounding medieval life.

What did I learn about children’s literature from this book?
Including drama content can help broaden a students' understanding of a character's perspective.  Not all books have to be in traditional chapter form.

Other titles by this author include:

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