Till Year's Good End: A Calendar of Medieval Labors

Overview

Based on a Medieval Book of Hours, this book describes the monthly activities of rural peasants in England during the Middle Ages. Rhyming couplets banner the top of each page while a paragraph for each month elaborates on the daily chores, showing the round of seasons in the farm year. Full color.

Presents farm activities, month by month, in England during the Middle Ages.

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Overview

Based on a Medieval Book of Hours, this book describes the monthly activities of rural peasants in England during the Middle Ages. Rhyming couplets banner the top of each page while a paragraph for each month elaborates on the daily chores, showing the round of seasons in the farm year. Full color.

Presents farm activities, month by month, in England during the Middle Ages.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
The watercolors are deceptive; they look like hand-painted block prints and really give an old fashioned flavor to the account of medieval peasants and their work through out the year. During the cold months of January and February, much of the peasants' time was spend indoors repairing tools, making utensils and spinning and weaving. With the arrival of spring, the fields were tilled, crops planted, fences mended and houses repaired. From early summer through late fall, a variety of crops were harvested, animals slaughtered and preparations made for the great Christmas festival. The illustrations clearly convey the never ending work of the peasants, whose labors allowed the lord and lady of the manor to live a life of greater luxury in the castle depicted in the background.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-7--In 12 double-page spreads, full-color illustrations and simple quatrains outline the busy work year of English medieval peasants. Manson's pen-and-ink drawings with strong black outlines and clear watercolors have the appearance of painted woodcuts and an earthy quality that suits the subject. Below each illustration, a brief text details the specific chores involved and explains the context in which they were done. The book does create a shelving problem. The simple rhymes and bright illustrations make it attractive to young children. It may languish in the 900's, but it would be too bad if it were placed with the picture books and missed by creative middle school or even high school teachers. This is the sort of book that needs a knowledgeable librarian to intercede and place it in the right hands along with Aliki's A Medieval Feast (HarperCollins, 1983). While work is the prevailing theme, the pictures also show the optimistic and occasionally playful side of life. The darker level of disease and despair is not evident. And, although a manor house or castle occasionally pops up in the background, the aristocracy is decidedly absent from the picture. Despite the narrow focus, or perhaps because of it, this is an appealing introduction to the simpler aspects of an era that continues to fascinate all ages.--Sally Margolis, formerly at Deerfield Public Library, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Nikola-Lisa (Tangletalk, p. 646, etc.) takes readers through an exhausting, contradictory year of peasant labor, ostensibly covering discrepancies in an author's note but creating instead a medieval muddle.

Rhyming couplets ride on banners across each spread—"February/Hunting nets/knot till tight./Wooden bowls/I carve just right"—while paragraphs of explanatory text detail the labors of medieval peasants month by month. Manson's heavily outlined figures labor in relative good humor through the woodcut-like scenes, but don't compensate for the inaccuracies of the project. Before shifting the calendar of the "medieval agricultural year" from late September to January, the author introduces readers to the Books of Hours, which had "the 365 feast days of the Church," a number that might have surprised medieval people and which will leave the picture-book set wondering; most scholars report fasting days to number fully half the days of the year. A preoccupation with feasting leads to oversimplification: Nikola-Lisa defines January as "generally a time of feasting" and rewards those cutting ripe hay in June with a daily feast, with no mention of autumn harvest celebrations. March finds the farmers engaged in what looks like premature spring planting, and mentions how a cereal crop "was planted in autumn to be harvested in summer," which either belies all sensibility or needs follow-up explication. This is an ill-advised survey, floating blithely over the whole of medieval peasantry and never taking root in a specific geographic area.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689800207
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/16/1997
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 7 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 10.84 (h) x 0.45 (d)

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