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VOYAWritten for a British audience, with a focus on England, Life in a Medieval Castle and Life in a Medieval Abbey provide excellent overviews of the Middle Ages. Well-chosen color photographs of medieval artwork, modern illustrations, and maps appear on every page, complementing the authoritative text, which is intended for strong readers. Passages from medieval texts, woven into McAleavy's prose, are equally well chosen. Each book begins with an overview and a who's-who page that introduces the people and official positions involved in an abbey or a castle. Fascinating details of daily life follow. The books explain the history of their subjects from beginnings to the last days, including the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. The Castle volume discusses structures throughout the British Isles and describes their construction as well as their place within the political landscape of medieval England. A chapter on "The Castle in War and Peace" reminds readers of the military purposes underlying these fortified buildings. In Abbey, readers learn about the varieties of monasticism, how monks and nuns fit into the medieval social and political structure, and how English institutions were connected with continental ones. Much of the material in the Abbey volume will be new to American readers, who might know little about monasticism, and not only students but also teachers of The Canterbury Tales and other medieval literature and history could learn a great deal from this distinguished book. Although many books about castles are available, McAleavy's stands out for its impressive presentation of fascinating, accurate information. (English Heritage).. VOYA Codes5Q 2P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Enchanted Lion/Peter Bedrick, 64p.; Index. Illus. Photos. Maps. Source Notes., Ages 12 to 18.