Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village

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Overview

Newbery Medal Winner! Step back to an English village in 1255, where life plays out in dramatic vignettes illuminating twenty-two unforgettable characters.

Maidens, monks, and millers’ sons — in these pages, readers will meet them all. There’s Hugo, the lord’s nephew, forced to prove his manhood by hunting a wild boar; sharp-tongued Nelly, who supports her family by selling live eels; and the peasant’s daughter, Mogg, who gets a clever lesson in how to save a cow from a greedy landlord. There’s also mud-slinging Barbary (and her noble victim); Jack, the compassionate half-wit; Alice, the singing shepherdess; and many more. With a deep appreciation for the period and a grand affection for both characters and audience, Laura Amy Schlitz creates twenty-two riveting portraits and linguistic gems equally suited to silent reading or performance. Illustrated with pen-and-ink drawings by Robert Byrd — inspired by the Munich-Nuremberg manuscript, an illuminated poem from thirteenth-century Germany — this witty, historically accurate, and utterly human collection forms an exquisite bridge to the people and places of medieval England.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763650940
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 09/13/2011
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 66,994
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Laura Amy Schlitz is the author of THE HERO SCHLIEMANN: THE DREAMER WHO DUG FOR TROY and A DROWNED MAIDEN'S HAIR. She wrote the pieces in GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! for students at the Park School in Baltimore, where she works as a librarian. She has also worked as a storyteller, a costumer, an actress, and a playwright; her plays for young people have been produced in theaters all over the country. Laura Amy Schlitz lives in Baltimore.

Robert Byrd teaches children’s book illustration at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He is the author-illustrator of many books, including LEONARDO: BEAUTIFUL DREAMER; FINN MACCOUL AND HIS FEARLESS WIFE; and THE HERO AND THE MINOTAUR. He also illustrated Laura Amy Schlitz’s first book for children, THE HERO SCHLIEMANN, about the life of a nineteenth-century amateur archaeologist. Robert Byrd lives in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

Read an Excerpt

NELLY THE SNIGGLER

I was born lucky. Nay, not born lucky, as you shall hear - but lucky soon after and ever after. My father and mother were starving poor, and dreaded another mouth to feed. When my father saw I was a girl-child, he took me up to drown in a bucket of water.

But here's the lucky part - and 'tis pure sooth. I didn't drown, babe though I was. I took hold with my wee fingers and held to the side of the bucket (1). And my mother wept, and my father's heart went soft, and he could no more drown me than himself-and they named me Nelly, for Queen Eleanor (2).

And their luck changed. First my uncle died of the scurvy and we got his pigs. Then the nuns at the abbey hired us to catch eels - and we've been sniggling ever since (3).

Do you see these eels? Fresher than the day they were born - and fat as priests. I know where their burrows are, and I know what they like for bait. And as for frogs - I've been catching frogs since I was two years old; there's not a frog in Christendom jumps fast enough to get away from me - and I can swim as fast as any boy - and better than Drogo, the tanner!

Do you know Drogo, the tanner's apprentice? I can't point him out to you, because he'd see me. He's always staring at me. Many's the time I've seen him peel off his hose to show me his legs - as if every frog I've ever put into a pie didn't have better legs than his!

We had a brawl last summer. I said 'twas the fault of the tanners that the river stank, and he said 'twas the fishmongers. Which is pure folly: 'tis surely God's will that fish should rot in the water, but the beasts should rot on the land. I put out my tongue, and by Saint Peter (4), he pushed me right off the wharf into the water. And then, poor fool, he thought I would drown - I, who couldn't drown when I was three hours old! He splashed in after me, and I dove down deep and grabbed his foot - and I ducked him three times, and serve him right. Only then I had to drag him out of the water - because it turns out, he can't swim! So I suppose you could say I saved his life.

He's never forgotten it. He watches me all the time - and shows off his legs. But I don't speak to him; I want nothing to do with him and his legs. I pretend I don't even know his name - and every day I walk past the tannery, just so he can see me not looking his way.

****************
1. Newborn babies have strong fngers and an instinct to hold on. The story about a baby catching hold of the bucket in which her father meant to drown her is true. The original plucky newborn was a woman named Liafburga, who lived around 700 a.d. (G.G. Coulton, The Medieval Village)

2 Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) was a legend in her own time.

3 A sniggler is a person who catches eels by dangling bait into their holes in the riverbank. Frogs and eels were desirable sources of protein during the Middle Ages.

4 Saint Peter was the patron saint of fishermen.



DROGO, THE TANNER'S APPRENTICE

I don't mind the stink-
I grew up with it, being the son of a butcher.
Dead things stink; that's the will of God,
and tanners (1) make good money.

I don't mind the work-
digging the pits grinding the oak bark smearing the hides with dung.
Work is work. I like bread in my belly and ale in my cup.

I do mind the jeering of Nelly the sniggler-
her tongue could scrape the hair off a hide!
And I mind the townsmen nattering on,
saying we foul the waters (2).
By Saint Bartholomew (3), think'st thou a man can make leather without filth?
Alum, lime, oak galls, urine,
ashes, tallow, and stale beer-
these are the tools of my trade.

Would you warm your hands in leather gloves?
Saddle or bridle your horse?
Do you dance to the sound of the bagpipes,
or lace up the cords of your armor?
What about the bellows, heating the forge?
It's leather - stinking leather!

Do you want good shoes or don't you?

So be it.
Now, let me get on with my scraper and dung.
You hold your nostrils - and hold your tongue.

****************
1 A tanner is someone who cures animal hides to make leather.

2 Polluted waters are not just a contemporary problem. Almost everything that tanners used was poisonous. People like fishermen and brewers, who needed the rivers to be clean, were always at war with the tanners.

3 Saint Bartholomew, who was skinned to death, was the patron saint of tanners. The logic of this is macabre, but not unique. Saint Sebastian, who was shot full of arrows, is the patron saint of archers; Saint Laurence, who was roasted alive, is the patron saint of cooks. We won't even talk about what happened to Saint Erasmus - it's too disgusting.


___________

GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrations by Robert Byrd. Text copyright (c) 2007 by Laura Amy Schlitz. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

Customer Reviews

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Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Prop2gether on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked the illustrations and the intermediary commentary much more than most of the 17 monologue/dialogues. I can see the book's usefulness in some classroom situations, but unless the study is really of the medieval period, this is not my first choice of a read for the age group it's purportedly written to use.
jfoster_sf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed how this books brings life to a time some kids might find hard to relate to.
Kivrin22 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. It has a map in the beginning where all of the characters are in the story. Each page or 2 has a monologue from a different character in a different position in a medieval village. Fantastic.
MissTeacher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This collection of monologues for young readers offers a personal insight to the differing lives on a medieval English manor. The various viewpoints and honest accounts are both interesting and educational, but the book lacks cohension in the story. I would like to have seen the different monologues interweave more, and each child have an effect on another's life. The possibilties for expanding the monologues and allowing interaction betwenn the characters are endless, and the format begs for such. These were written for the young, and should permit more playfulness and discovery within their words.
Whisper1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this 2008 Newbery Medal winner, the author takes the reader to a Medieval Village.Each poem is a story told by the daughter, son, nephew or apprentice of a particular trades person.While it is creative and the illustrations are very artistic, I personally cannot recommend this book.It falls flat, smack face down in one of the muddy roads that meander throughout the village. The stories jump around higher and faster than the fleas and lice described as a part of the every day life in 1255. I kept waiting for at least one of the tales to soar like the falcon, but alas, as unglamorous as the Crusades, it felt like a pilgrimage to no where.
mmpvppl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really neat format. Small plays, each about a different part of medieval life. Listened to the audio, which was really like hearing a performance. Informative and entertaining for anyone who enjoys the medieval time period.
srssrs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book. It is a collection of one act plays that a librarian wrote her students at her school. The plays are focused around a medieval theme and each play highlights a variety of people that would have been found living in a medieval village. On the initial page for each character, there is a short vocabulary list that may enhance a reader's understanding. As you read through the creative monologues you can't help but be distracted by the illustrations and page layout. Each page has a ribbon of color, that gives the page edges an appearance of a framed stage. The drawings are colored, but look like simple colored sketches. The simplicity almost mimics the style of art from the medieval period. The colors are rich and vivid. The color tones almost remind me of the richness in altar pieces. Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! May or may not be something any teacher could put on, but the book is definitely a work of art!
sriches on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Maidens, monks, and millers¿ sons ¿ in these pages, readers will meet them all. There¿s Hugo, the lord¿s nephew, forced to prove his manhood by hunting a wild boar; sharp-tongued Nelly, who supports her family by selling live eels; and the peasant¿s daughter, Mogg, who gets a clever lesson in how to save a cow from a greedy landlord. There¿s also mud-slinging Barbary (and her noble victim); Jack, the compassionate half-wit; Alice, the singing shepherdess; and many more. With a deep appreciation for the period and a grand affection for both characters and audience, Laura Amy Schlitz creates twenty-two riveting portraits and linguistic gems equally suited to silent reading or performance. Illustrated with pen-and-ink drawings by Robert Byrd ¿ inspired by the Munich-Nuremberg manuscript, an illuminated poem from thirteenth-century Germany ¿ this witty, historically accurate, and utterly human collection forms an exquisite bridge to the people and places of medieval England. From Goodreads
StephanieWA on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this unique collection of plays written for children, each character illustrates a different type of person in a Medieval village and each has a distinct voice, which shows in the language. Historical notes accompany each short play and help the reader to understand the context of the play. Included at the end is a comprehensive and helpful bibliography which will lead Medieval enthusiasts to other resources on the topic.
karinaw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Personal Response:I feel that this is an excellent book for learning about a whole range of people in the middle ages. It also is a great teaching tool for the classroom. It allows children to participate actively in learning by acting out the various characters. This book is written using medieval vocabulary with footnotes to explain the references. It is very educational and also provides background segments aside from the verse.Curriculum Connections:Identify the different types of poetry and verse used. Perform Have each student further research a person and what their lives might be like as they become an adult.
TeriHogg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the style of Chaucer¿s ¿Canterbury Tales¿, Schlitz brings to life in monologue form (and two dialogues) the humdrum and oftentimes-hazardous occupations and activities of village children and adolescents in Medieval England. Life is dirty and poverty is common to almost everyone living off of the Lord¿s land. For example, Mariot and Maud are the glassblower¿s daughters who find that one of them must marry the glassblower¿s apprentice since he will inherit the business. While Maud thinks poorly of him: ¿The way that he scratches, the way that he peers at what he¿s scratched up-¿ and refuses to consider marriage, Mariot wonders, ¿What if I befriended him? Mended his tunic and helped him to tend to the burns on his finger, his bedbugs and fleas?¿ Many terms common to the era are explained in notes on a ribbon of muted color along the side margins. Small framed ink and watercolor drawings by Byrd define each character capturing medieval art and style while larger illustrations are included on pages giving additional background history. History and drama teachers will adore this Newberry winner and will assign students to act out the characters. However, students might not share their enthusiasm. A large bibliography is included. Highly recommended. Grades 6-9.
sylvatica on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Schlitz is a school librarian. When her students were studying Medieval times, she wrote this series of monologues to help them perform and understand the lives of children in a Medieval English village. Very nicely done, though with a few clunky spots where the rhythm or rhyme doesn¿t quite click. Kids could really get into these characters as a way of understanding that time period. A teacher or parent could use this book as a centerpiece to a larger unit, studying the whole era through the eyes of the characters in the book. Great marginalia and period-appropriate illustrations, as well. (pannarrens)
vortega on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! is the perfect book for 7th grade English and History teachers to use to collaborate on interdisciplinary lessons that students will find hard to resist. Laura Amy Schlitz, author, poet, dramatist and history enthusiast, sets nineteen monologues and two, two voice dialogues, in England, in a Medieval village in the year 1255. Twenty-two characters, with ages ranging from 10 through 15, deliver brilliantly written and historically accurate personal accounts of their lives, work, social customs and beliefs. The illustrations by Robert Byrd, are beautifully rendered in ink and watercolor and add to the authenticity of this dramatic tour-de-force.
LibrarysCat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I cannot think of the words to say how much I loved this latest Newbery winner. Good Masters, Sweet Ladies: Voices from a Medieval Village is a wonderful adventure in medieval history. Written by Laura Amy Schlitz to be performed by middle school students with each having a substantial role, the author introduces a variety of young people who might have lived in a village in England in 1255. Interspersed between the short vignettes provided for each villager, the author includes brief historical notes and longer explanations of specific topics which might be of interest to the reader. What a successful plunge into the publishing world by a fellow librarian. I cannot leave you with my favorite quote because I just don¿t think I have one. You need to read the book (I read it in only about 30 minutes) and see what you think. I should also add that I really liked the illustrations by Robert Byrd as well. Another quality which is very nice in a children¿s book is a full bibliography. I loved it!!
sbigger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! is a compilation of stories about children in the middle ages. Each child has some type of profession (or the child of) and they tell a story or a story is told about their lives. The story is either written in poem or short story form and are all fairly easy to read. The author does use terms from the time period, but if the term isn't something a modern child would understand, there is a footnote (or sidenote) explaining the term in ways a modern child can understand. Interspersed between the stories are non-fiction pieces that help to explain an aspect of life in an English village in 1255. The book would be a good source for an elementary or middle school teacher who had to teach about Medieval life and the different social classes. All the stories/poems are short and interesting as are the historical background sections. The illustrator tried to make his art style similar to wood carvings and painting from the time period, but some modern techniques are in there too. The pictures help to show some of the aspects of life visually. I would recommend this for ages 9 and up.
MaowangVater on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A series of monologues and two dialogs introduce the lives of twenty-three children near an English manor in 1255. There are interspersed with short one-page essays on crop rotation, pilgrimage, the Crusades, Jews in medieval society and the legal status of runaways. The plays were written by a school librarian to teach young students about life in the middle ages. They were written so that everyone in the class could be a star ¿for three minutes at least.¿Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! was awarded the John Newbery Medal in 2008 for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children by the Association of Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
momma2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
We really really enjoyed this book. It was a fun and interesting look at everyday life in a Medieval Village. And it wasn't a cast of the usual characters, we heard from the the sniggler, the beggar and the runaway as well as from the plowboy and the merchant's daughter. Wonderfully done and extremely informative. A great "living book."
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One thing I've enjoyed about reading Newberry Medal winners is the variety of the selections. This book of monologues, written to be performed by children, is an engaging look at life in the Middle Ages. Taken together they give the reader a glimpse of life in a world completely different from modern United States. There's a fair dose of humor, which contrasts nicely with the realities of lice and fleas, hunger and oppression.
sagrundman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! is a compilation of stories about children in the middle ages. Each child has some type of profession (or the child of) and they tell a story or a story is told about their lives. The story is either written in poem or short story form and are all fairly easy to read. The author does use terms from the time period, but if the term isn't something a modern child would understand, there is a footnote (or sidenote) explaining the term in ways a modern child can understand. Interspersed between the stories are non-fiction pieces that help to explain an aspect of life in an English village in 1255. The book would be a good source for an elementary or middle school teacher who had to teach about Medieval life and the different social classes. All the stories/poems are short and interesting as are the historical background sections. The illustrator tried to make his art style similar to wood carvings and painting from the time period, but some modern techniques are in there too. The pictures help to show some of the aspects of life visually. I would recommend this for ages 9 and up.
emgriff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
23 young characters from all walks of medieval English life introduce themselves in this collection of monologues. The stories, many of which intertwine, are each told in the character's distinctive voice - some in prose and some in verse. Illustrations inspired by illuminated manuscripts of the time enhance the feeling of the text. Very readable footnotes and short essays provide information on topics such as the farming systems of the time, pilgrimages and falconry. Topics such as the Crusades and treatment of the Jews during this time period are also addressed frankly. Designed as a play in which no one would have to have a bit part, this collection could be enjoyed silently, but is particularly well suited to be performed aloud. I do wonder about the audience for this book, as the format suggests elementary school, but the language and subject matter might be beyond the frame of reference of many in this age group. I would highly recommend this book as part of a larger unit Medieval life, however, and would likely include it in a collection for upper elementary students (and perhaps middle school) students.
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a collection of monologues (and a handful of dialogues) of different characters in a medieval village. Some of them know each other, some speak poetically and others in prose, but all give you a multifaceted look at life in the 13th century. Beginning with the lord's nephew and ending with a beggar, each monologue is individual, gives a slightly different perspective, and makes each character feel real and likable.This was a quick read that I enjoyed pretty well. It was different, with its mix of nonfiction notes and made-up characters. Some historical notes are interspersed, giving the book a little bit of a teacherly feel. I can see why the book won a Newbery, though I think that it might get more notice from adults than kids as a possible "teaching tool."
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A collection of monologues written for her students at the Park School in Baltimore, this volume gives us a glimpse into life in a medieval village. Schlitz has written monologues for children in the village including the lord's daughter, the miller's son, the beggar, the Jew... Footnotes help explain some of the language and medieval references and every so often she inserts some background information (about, for example, the status of Jews in medieval society or the Crusades). I read each of the monologues out loud (which is what they were written for, after all) and found them delightful. I could picture school kids dressing up in costumes and performing this collection for an audience of rapt parents. This isn't a book to be rushed through, but one to be savored and listened to.
1morechapter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The 2008 Newbery award winner, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!, is by Laura Amy Schlitz. The book is subtitled Voices from a Medieval Village, and contains points of view from the blacksmith¿s daughter, the tanner¿s son, the falconer¿s son, the glassblower¿s daughters, among many others. I didn¿t like it at all at first, but by the time I got to the story about a shepherdess singing to a grieving ewe, I was enjoying it. The illustrations by Robert Byrd were excellent.
detailmuse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Winner of the 2008 Newbery Medal, ¿Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!¿ is a middle-grade collection of 21 short monologues and dialogues -- poetry and prose -- written in the voices of kids in and around a 1255 English manor.Each child is tagged with a role in the manor¿s society or trades (for example, the Lord¿s daughter, the miller¿s son), but each also illustrates what it¿s like to conquer a fear, or lose a parent, or be an outcast, or be heavy with responsibility ... or feel the first stirrings of romance. The stories pulse with tension and emotion, and build beautifully as the various characters sometimes echo one other, sometimes contrast. Robert Byrd's illustrations enhance the narratives, and the author uses footnotes and intermissions to supply bits of medieval history; she also provides a 54-item bibliography.A terrific book, highly recommended. I read a library copy but wish I¿d bought it so I could re-read these tender vignettes.
ElizaJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A collection of monologues/soliloquies written to be performed by middle grade students. Each monologue tells the tale of an individual child from the middle ages. Footnotes are presented in sidebars and a few non-fiction factual pieces explain various medieval customs and history. The book is gorgeously illustrated with medieval-type illustrations in ink and watercolour. The design of the book is also very visually pleasing with coloured ribbon sidebars on every page.While I found this book very pretty, the text did nothing for me. The majority of the monologues are written in verse (some even rhyming) which was very tedious to read and frankly, boring. I can't imagine watching a play that consists of a bunch of monologues to be very entertaining either. I enjoy both historical fiction and books that take place in the middle ages but this book was just not my thing.