Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village

Common Sense Media says

Unique, brilliant, award-winning history book.




Newbery Medal and Honors

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Typical of medieval Christian society, villagers are prejudiced against Jews and Muslims.


A boar is hunted and killed; references to child abuse; a boy is beaten by other boys; a man is beaten to death; killing in war; an attempted drowning of a baby.



Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A man is referred to as a drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is some violence here, including what would now be considered child abuse, and that medieval Christian society was prejudiced against Jews and Muslims.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In 19 monologues and two dialogs in verse and prose, the lives of a cast of characters from a medieval village -- nobles and peasants, but all children -- are illuminated. Through them, along with margin notes and periodic background sections, a portrait of life in the Middle Ages is created. Includes Author's Foreword and Bibliography.

Is it any good?


The ways of the ALA Committees can be passing strange, but 2007 was one of the years they got it right. Just as the Caldecott Award went to The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, a work that blended graphic novel and prose to create the most original novel of the year, so the Newbery Award was given to GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES!, a unique and vivid work that blends fiction, nonfiction, and drama to create something entirely new.

Everything works beautifully here. The styles and voices of the characters vary according to their personalities, the author's own voice is warm and direct, and the illustrations and page design make this an attractive and accessible volume. Lots of information is given, but it is never dry or academic -- the format of monologues by fictional but realistic characters keeps it lively and engrossing. The book will appeal to many kids, including those who don't usually choose nonfiction, and will be useful for history classes and drama productions and workshops. Even reluctant readers will enjoy the clear, direct text, short length, and dramatic content. We can even hope that this brilliant book, with its awards and attendant success, may lead to a renaissance of books for kids that make history come alive.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the Middle Ages. What would it have been like to live then? Which of the characters would you like to be? Why? Also, why do you think this book was chosen for the biggest book award?

Book details

Author:Laura Amy Schlitz
Illustrator:Robert Byrd
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:August 1, 2007
Number of pages:85
Read aloud:9
Read alone:10
Award:Newbery Medal and Honors

This review of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byFlyingbull April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Adult Written byBookMama April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
ZZZZ. More like a coffee table book, or a text book, than a story. Can't see kids reading this on their own. Lovely illustrations though.
Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written bypeony April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Outstanding! A moving spectrum of medieval life, including harsh realities

The short dramatic monologues format makes for a vivid view of a spectrum of children in a medieval village. Short and captivating, yet educational too. A compassionate, moving treatment of many topics I would usually consider too "rough" for younger readers, but this is so well-done and so accessible that it's worthwhile -- just be prepared for some discussion with readers who are on the younger side (8-10) of the recommended age range, or more sensitive. (In addition to the content points mentioned in the CSM review, there are also some earthy parts: mention of pain/fear of childbirth; a girl assists in lambing. Also, a discussion of cheating-as-a-business-style by the miller.) Recommend for ages 8+ with discussion; otherwise 10+.


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