Sally’s Rating: 4/5
Readers will meet blacksmiths, pilgrims, knights and varlets in the 2008 Newbery Medal winning Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz.
Written for the classroom, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! enlightens its readers with the day-to-day lives of several medieval characters with vivid monologues of the trials, tribulations and joys of being born to a certain profession in medieval times. The author excels at creating vibrant portraits of all 23 characters, each personality brimming with their hopes, thoughts and desires that easily entertains while simultaneously educating readers on medieval life.
The reader is introduced to Hugo, the lord’s nephew, who goes on a boar hunt to prove his manhood. Sisters Mariot and Maud argue the merits and pitfalls of marrying the glassblower’s apprentice. And Alice the shepherdess learns how to sing to a dying lamb in the hopes of making it feel better. Through each character’s narrative, the author explains certain traditions and wordplay through annotations in the margins that provide interesting contexts for the story being told. Even as an adult reader, I learned several things that I had never known before, and children could easily read this book without feeling overwhelmed.
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! was a pleasure to read with its multitude of colorful characters and witty prose. I’d definitely recommend this short and sweet book to anyone who enjoys fun history lessons mixed with a cast of clever characters.