One-Minute Book Reviews

January 15, 2008

Forsooth, ‘Tis Two Brief Excerpts From Laura Amy Schlitz’s ‘Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!’ So That Thou May Know the 2008 Newbery Medal Winner

Twenty-two men and women of the 13th century talk about their lives in Laura Amy Schlitz’s Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices From a Medieval Village (Candlewick, $19.99, ages 9 and up), illustrated by Robert Byrd, which won the 2008 Newbery Medal for the most distinguished work of American literature for children. Some of these fictional characters deliver their monologues or dialogues in poetry and others in prose. Here’s an example of each:

Otho, The Miller’s Son

“Father is the miller

As his father was of old,

And I shall be the miller,

When my father’s flesh is cold.

I know the family business —

It’s been drummed into my head:

How to cheat the hungry customer

And earn my daily bread …”

Nelly, The Sniggler*

“I was born lucky. Nay, not born lucky, as you shall hear — but lucky soon after and ever after. My father and mother were starving poor, and dreaded another mouth to feed. When my father saw I was a girl-child, he took me up to drown me in a bucket of water …”

* “A sniggler is a person who catches eels by dangling bait into their holes in the riverbank.”

You can read a longer excerpt and find more information about Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! on the publisher’s site

(c) 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. HI,
    Through this entry I found your question about Christian themes keeping books from winning awards. Do you have any thoughts about the Newbery Honor winner “Feathers” by Jacqueline Woodson? After reading it, my first thought was that the Christianity in the story would keep it from much publicity!

    Comment by womanreader — January 15, 2008 @ 9:15 pm | Reply

  2. I haven’t read “Feathers,” but I’m so eager to, because it was high on a lot of “Mock Newbery” and other lists. Thanks for giving me an extra incentive.

    Oddly enough, “Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!” has quite a bit about God and Christianity. Simon, “The Knight’s Son” in the book, says: “I would fight / for widows and orphans / Christ and His church.” There are many lines about saints and Christian holidays (though there’s material on Judaism, too).

    But in my experience, many publishers and others are more willing to accept Christianity in books about the distant past — that is, in books treat Christianity as history rather than as a living faith. So I don’t know if, good as she is, Schlitz would have won if she’d written about contemporary people who, for example, spoke about fighting for “Christ and His church.”

    I’d love to know what some librarians think about that one, wouldn’t you?


    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — January 15, 2008 @ 10:22 pm | Reply

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