On a Medieval Day: Story Voyages Around the World

On a Medieval Day: Story Voyages Around the World

by Rona Arato, Peter Ferguson
     
 

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What if you could spend a day in the shoes of a child in the Middle Ages? What would you learn about cultures of the past? On a Medieval Day uses nine historical fiction stories to give kids just that opportunity. Contrary to the common Euro-centric associations of the word "medieval," On a Medieval Day visits cultures from Japan to Mali and spans

Overview

What if you could spend a day in the shoes of a child in the Middle Ages? What would you learn about cultures of the past? On a Medieval Day uses nine historical fiction stories to give kids just that opportunity. Contrary to the common Euro-centric associations of the word "medieval," On a Medieval Day visits cultures from Japan to Mali and spans nearly 700 years of world history. From Viking explorers to medical advances in Baghdad, this book challenges assumptions and enlightens readers to the fascinating civilizations that have shaped our world. Told through the eyes of boys and girls aged 12 to 14, readers follow each character through a single day. Whether examining an arranged marriage or aspirations of becoming a knight, each character tells a compelling story about universal trials of growing into adolescence. Portraits painted by artist Peter Ferguson and detailed background pages that use facts, maps, and illustrations bring readers further into this history.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Prefaced by a full-page close-up portrait, each of Arato's nine short tales describes a watershed day in the life of a young person in a different part of the world and a time between the eighth and 14th centuries. In locales ranging from the Mayan city of Tikal and Tang Dynasty China to Timbuktu and Toledo, the children enjoy a ball game or a joust, visit a doctor, get married, make friends and like familiar experiences. The best and least purpose-driven of the lot is the closing episode, in which a young Spanish apprentice discovers that his loving master is a converso (a secret Jew) but reaches a wordless understanding with him. Because the settings aren't described in close detail and in Ferguson's pictures all of the children sport similar features and the same faraway look, readers will get a better feeling for the various societies' commonalities than their differences. Still, each story is supplemented by a map and a spread of background facts, and overall the collection may pique readers' interest in finding out more about some of these realms and eras. (Informational fiction. 9-11)

From the Publisher

"A gorgeous book to be savored, read aloud, and enjoyed repeatedly."
Quill & Quire

"The collection may pique readers' interest in finding out more about some of this realms and eras."
Kirkus Reviews

“The fast-paced stories make for entertaining reading…a wonderful attempt to expand the usual concept of the medieval world beyond Europe.”
School Library Journal

“Smoothly written and sometimes dramatic, the entries offer glimpses of different cultures within well-structured narratives.”
Booklist

Children's Literature - Leah Hanson
Whether challenging a corrupt uncle to an archery contest or stowing away on a great Venetian galley, the tweens in On a Medieval Day are anything but ordinary twelve-year-olds. Each long to find his/her place in the world and demonstrate the plucky courage to face whatever challenges may come his/her way. Presented as a collection of story-journeys, On a Medieval Day follows a single day in the life of eight youngsters scattered throughout the world and through time. Readers get just a taste of life in ancient America, China, Baghdad, Finland, England, Japan, Timbuktu, Venice, and Toledo from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries. Hana struggles with how to maintain her fierce independence while accepting her arranged marriage; Jamal hopes to become a doctor if only he can recover from what seems to be the smallpox; Richard dreams of becoming a knight but fears he will be sent away from the castle. Brief historical notes follow each story, placing terms, events, and places in context. The breadth of this collection offers a fresh view of the medieval era, going beyond the knights and ladies we often associate with this part of history and delving into the advances made in trade, medicine, political empires, and learning all over the world. At times the stories feel a little forced and the historical aspects start to overwhelm the fiction, but overall this is a worthy addition to the history classroom. Reviewer: Leah Hanson
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Alternating between male and female narrators, this book presents stories about nine fictional youth of the medieval period. From the Mayan Civilization in 720 to the Kingdom of Castile in 1395, with stops in Vinland in 1002, Japan in 1205, and other places and years, their tales provide readers with a worldview of the era. Each chapter follows one child or teen through a day in which a conflict or crisis for the protagonist brings in some cultural and social context of the period. For example, a 13-year-old reluctantly prepares for her marriage in eighth-century China; a young man contracts measles in Bagdad and is treated by the great Islamic physician Dr. Muhammad ibn Zakariya Al-Razi; and a boy gets lost in Timbuktu on a trip to the vibrant trading post with his father in 1345. The fast-paced stories make for entertaining reading. Each chapter ends with a brief history of the period and includes a simple map. An illustration of the child featured in the story begins each chapter and although beautifully rendered, a number of the youngsters are similar in both features and skin color, making them nearly indistinguishable. The book is a wonderful attempt to expand the usual concept of the medieval world beyond Europe, but some readers may feel that its fictionalized aspects diminish its informational value.—Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781897349946
Publisher:
Owlkids Books
Publication date:
10/01/2010
Series:
On a Day Story Voyages
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
9 - 13 Years

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