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 www.candlewick.com.
(c) 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.