A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
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.