Part of a non-fiction series on the Middle Ages, this large-format book uses many color drawings and maps to show us what daily life was like in the early 1200's in Champagne France. After some background information on the time and place, we are invited to learn about medieval life from a noblewoman's perspective, as we spend a day with Blanche, the widowed Countess of Champagne and a real person. She takes us to visit the church, the market, oversees road repairs and prepares to welcome her son, on a visit home from court. An index, glossary, pronunciation guide, and bibliography add to the educational value of the book. Other titles in the "A Day With" series include Miller, Stonecutter, and Troubadour.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8A look at the life of a French noblewoman during the Middle Ages. The first part of the book gives an overview of the period. The Crusades are mentioned briefly as they affected the life of Blanche, the countess of Champagne, who is the main character in the second part of the book. The story follows the 13th-century widow through a busy day of morning prayers, lunch with the local priests, and a fair in Provins. In the evening, she is joined by her young son, Thibaut IV, who has been with the King of France for several months. Pernoud concludes with an afterword that sums up the era. The colors, shading, and detailing used in the watercolor illustrations make the Middle Ages come alive far more than the text. From the countryside fields to the village market day, the scenes show life in the High Middle Ages, capturing the lives of people of all classes, from noblewoman to serf. The vocabulary is fairly difficult; children who can handle it may not be attracted to the picture-book format. The glossary is limited as to its use because the words used in the definitions are difficult to understand. Still, this book may be useful as a supplemental resource and as an introduction to Karen Cushman's Catherine, Called Birdy Clarion, 1994 and Theresa Tomlinson's The Forestwife Orchard, 1995.Stephani Hutchinson, Pioneer Elementary School, Sunnyside, WA
A handsome history opens with an overview of life in France in the 12th and 13th centuries. Readers can glean much general information about the medieval world; the spread depicting the spice trade is particularly informative. The second part focuses on events in one day in the life of a real woman, Blanche, Countess of Champagne, who managed her deceased husband's territory in order to protect her infant son's inheritance. It wasn't easy: Upon his father's death, her son became a ward of the king, who was keen to gobble up the assets of all his wards. She not only maintained his inheritance, but improved it. Bacchin's evocative full-color paintings complement Pernoud's meticulous detailing of Blanche's rigorous schedule—up before the sun and busy all the day with administrative work, her only respite in prayer, music, and poetry. This solid and informationally rewarding slice of life makes the Middle Ages vivid for researchers and browsers alike.