Hi y’all! I am back today with another review. I have been on a roll with review writing this week and I’m excited to finish off reviewing the last of the books I read in 2018 (just one more after this one!) I’m excited to be fully in my 2019 reading soon. Today I am reviewing Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz.
I have not read anything quite like Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village. And I loved it because of how unique it was.
- If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be clever. Everything about this is so clever. The way Schlitz created the monologues for her students. The way she incorporates history into the story. The way she rhymes and tells simple stories with 22 clear personalities. Even the color illustrations and map.
- Like Shakespeare, I think the best way to experience this book is not to read it but to see it performed. And I love that the original inspiration was to have these monologues performed by students so each could have a moment in the spotlight. I would love to see it performed!
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz is a delightful collection of monologues about 22 villagers with plenty of historical details along the way. According to Goodreads: “Step back to medieval 1255 England and meet 22 villagers, illustrated in pen and ink, inspired by the Munich-Nuremberg manuscript, an illuminated poem from thirteenth-century Germany. Hugo, the lord’s nephew, proves his manhood by hunting a wild boar. Sharp-tongued Nelly supports her family by selling live eels. Peasant Mogg gets a clever lesson in how to save a cow from a greedy landlord. Barbary slings mud on noble Jack. Alice is the singing shepherdess. And many more . . . .”
I have never enjoyed learning about the Medieval Period more than while I read this book. This is not just a clever story about people all living in the same village. The details of how to hunt a wild boar, festival dates, apprenticeships, and even how to be a successful beggar are both interesting to read about and true to the historical time. All the details Schlitz includes are fascinating. The little background summaries included between some monologues are useful and engaging too. This book is the epitome of making learning fun.
Reading a dramatic script is a unique experience that makes the reading quick but the time with each character shorter. Because the monologues are short (5-10 pages), there isn’t a lot of time to develop each character with a extended backstory or even much action in the present. What is especially impressive about this collection is how much we learn about the characters in their brief monologues. Schlitz creates characters that nearly jump off the page demanding to be read. I especially enjoyed Taggot, the sisters, and the beggar. But all were enjoyable to read about. I was impressed how well the characters stand out from each other and how easily I kept them all straight. The genre helped with this in other ways too.
I loved the genre of this collection from the map, the illustrations, and the words themselves; everything is essential for the full experience of the stories. I loved the map at the front of the book. I kept switching back to it to see where each character was which helped keep them differentiated in my mind. The illustrations are beautifully done and help create the scene for the readers who do not have the advantage of a live production. This is a super quick read. Because of the dramatic script layout, the chapters are short and the words organization on the page are just as important as the words themselves. If you can’t see the monologues performed, at least in reading the text, readers can get a sense of how the words would be expressed and where the actors would pause, yell, interrupt, or whisper. It feels like you are there in the medieval village with these characters. I was completely captivated from the first page.
This is definitely a well deserved Newbery winner. I have never read anything like this. And I have now added several of the author’s other works to my TBR. This is a book for everyone–students, teachers, readers, actors, and everyone in between. This book is an experience worth having. Bravo, Laura Amy Schlitz!
Have you read many dramatic scripts as books?
Which do you recommend?
I read this Newbery Medal winner as a part of my Newbery Challenge.
I plan to read all 100 Newbery Medal winners by the end of 2022, the year the 100th winner is announced.