Candlewick Press: Cambridge, MA, 2007.
Newbery Medal 2008
What a nice way of presenting details of Medieval history and daily life! When I first looked in the book, I noticed the poetry format and thought it was going to be harder to read, dragging, maybe not something kids would pick for themselves. Maybe they wouldn't. But the book is fresh and alive. The text is loosely poems, mostly sounding like speech. They are 19 monologues and 2 dialogues, meant to be performed. The 2 dialogues are blended, sounding similar to Paul Fleischman's Joyful Noise. It is as if the personalities stepped out of time to discuss their lives, their concerns.
The characters are all young people, between 10 and 15 years old. They represent different aspects of the Medieval village and give a realistic image of the times. There are also a few excerpts further explaining some points and a lengthy bibliography for more reading or study.
Schlitz is a librarian who wrote the pieces for a Medieval unit study at her local school. The students all wanted strong parts, so she complied.
This would be a great choice for Readers Theater, too.
The presentation of the book is reminiscent of illuminated books, with borders and small detailed pictures on all title pages and larger ones here and there.
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