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Children's LiteratureThe subtitle to this text might well be: How Things Worked. Most people were peasants and farmers, so the book begins by describing farming methods—how crops were rotated, types of plows, and how and why horses were used. Since the mill was an important source of power, that segment has a two-page illustration with cutlines to explain how mills work. The book also takes a look at how cloth and clothing were made and how homes were built. Medieval builders and stone masons used their remarkable understanding of principles of physics as they built cathedrals and castles and other important buildings. Over the centuries their knowledge increased allowing them to include more intricate features. Other crafts examined are metalworking, weaponry, and book-making. Alchemists, who were searching for ways to turn base metals to gold, advanced the knowledge of chemistry. Doctors treated sicknesses with herbs and used surgery, even opening skulls to relieve severe headaches and treat mental illness. Although most peasants relied on the sun to tell time, astronomers, astrologers, and navigators developed special instruments to keep track of sun and stars. Early clocks, some powered by water, were quite ingenious. Finally, the book looks at travel on land and water and at the work of mapmakers. This well-illustrated book includes a map, timeline, glossary, and an index. 2005, Crabtree Publishing Company, and Ages 7 to 14.
—Janet Crane Barley