Saturday, May 25, 2013

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! by Laura Amy Schlitz

Good Masters!  Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz

Set in the year 1255, Good Master! Sweet Ladies!, takes a close look at the young people who lived and sustained a medieval village.  There are 19 monologues and two dialogues which represent various voices and social strata in the community.  The lord's nephew and daughter, the moneylender's son, the blacksmith's daughter, the plowboy, the runaway, the sniggler and more.  After a set of monologues that intersect, there is a section called A Little Background where Schlitz shares the facts and history behind an aspect of the medieval village.

Laura Amy Schlitz wrote the series of plays in Good Masters!  Sweet Ladies! for a class of students who were studying the Middle Ages.  The verse is well written and can be performed, read aloud or read silently based on your preference. There are footnotes throughout the text to explain terms and the way of life 800 years ago.

This is an enjoyable book that creates a historical connection between then and now.  We have changed a lot since the Middle Ages but then again, some things remain unchanged like classism.  I have to say I read the book silently and learned a lot.  I am a history teacher and had no idea what a sniggler was or a varlet.  The book was entertaining, informative and quite a lot of fun to read.

 I think it would be fun to read aloud with a class or even with my own children.   Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! won the Newberry award in 2008.  In my opinion this book is written more for educators and parents as it doesn't seem the type of book upper elementary kids are drawn to.  I bought this book when it won the medal five years ago and neither of my kids were interested in it and they still haven't read it.  That being said, I think Laura Amy Schlitz is an excellent writer and I expect she will create more great reading experiences for children and adults.  Now if I can only get my kids to
read it.