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Children's LiteratureBooks about the Middle Ages generally focus on knights and the achievements of men. Although this is not the first nonfiction book I've seen about Medieval women, this is the first that actually takes a balanced look at their contributions to their society both inside and outside the home. After setting the stage with a description of the Middle Ages, the author describes lives and work of noblewomen in castles, women in towns and peasant women. The reader learns about being educated, getting married, keeping house, and raising a family. The segment on housekeeping gives helpful hints for getting rid of fleas, being a good wife, preparing stuffed "pigling" and behaving in public. There is also information about women's life in the church. And what would a book about women be without some notes about beauty, fashion and style. They dressed in layers and sometimes had themselves bled by the barbers in order to look fashionably pale, among other details. A two-page spread about having fun has a panoramic picture of pleasures for women with cutlines describing the activities. Looking at lives of women around the world, the book even describes customs like the Chinese binding of girls' feet. Finally it tells about Medieval women who are still remembered for making a difference in the world. The attractive, well-illustrated book includes a time line, a glossary and an index. 2004, Crabtree Publishing Company, Ages 7 to 14.
—Janet Crane Barley