Children's LiteraturePeople in the Middle Ages ranked everythingeven food. The highest-ranking foods were those closest to heaven: cranes, pheasants and other birds. The lowest foods were buried in the ground like onions and turnips. So nobles ate more pheasants, peasants ate more turnips. The book is loaded with interesting tidbits that throw a light on daily life and eating from the 700s to the fifteenth century. The pages have a mottled look like ancient paper; all are ringed with tiny decorative designs and most of the illustrations appear to come from art of the period such as "books of hours." There are frequent maps and timelines, as well as boxes covering topics like fire safety, table manners (Yes, manners were important even at a time when people ate with their fingers!) and a recipe for cheese wafers. Unfortunately, the recipe is too vague for many adults let alone young readers ("make a moist dough"). For a book on food, there should have been enough recipes for an enthusiastic class to prepare a feast, although there are plenty of ideas to get students started. There are short chapters on feast days, the difference between meals for nobles and peasants, and food in other cultures such as South America, West Africa and India. The series also includes titles on the life of a knight, medieval warfare, places of worship, life in a castle, medieval society, women and girls, clothing, children and games, and medieval towns and trade. The series would add life to this often dull period in world history and can be adapted for elementary grades right through high school. 2004, Crabtree, Ages 10 up.
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