Cover image for Good masters! Sweet Ladies! voices from a medieval village
Good masters! Sweet Ladies! voices from a medieval village
Good masters! Sweet Ladies! [compact disc] : voices from a medieval village
Personal Author:
Unabridged edition
Publisher Info:
Prince Frederick, MD : Recorded Books, c2008.
Physical Description:
2 discs (1 hr., 30 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
In container (17 cm.).

Title from container.

"Unabridged Fiction"--Container.

"With tracks every 3 minutes for easy book marking"--Container.
A collection of short one-person plays featuring characters, between ten and fifteen years old, who live in or near a thirteenth-century English manor.
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Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!

Author Notes

Laura Amy Schlitz is the writer of the 2008 Newbery Medal-winning Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from the Medieval Village and the 2013 Newbery Medal-winning Spendors and Glooms.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Schlitz (The Hero Schliemann ) wrote these 22 brief monologues to be performed by students at the school where she is a librarian; here, bolstered by lively asides and unobtrusive notes, and illuminated by Byrd's (Leonardo, Beautiful Dreamer) stunningly atmospheric watercolors, they bring to life a prototypical English village in 1255. Adopting both prose and verse, the speakers, all young, range from the half-wit to the lord's daughter, who explains her privileged status as the will of God. The doctor's son shows off his skills ("Ordinary sores/ Will heal with comfrey, or the white of an egg,/ An eel skin takes the cramping from a leg"); a runaway villein (whose life belongs to the lord of his manor) hopes for freedom after a year and a day in the village, if only he can calculate the passage of time; an eel-catcher describes her rough infancy: her "starving poor [father] took me up to drown in a bucket of water." (He relents at the sight of her "wee fingers" grasping at the sides of the bucket.) Byrd, basing his work on a 13th-century German manuscript, supplies the first page of each speaker's text with a tone-on-tone patterned border overset with a square miniature. Larger watercolors, some with more intricate borders, accompany explanatory text for added verve. The artist does not channel a medieval style; rather, he mutes his palette and angles some lines to hint at the period, but his use of cross-hatching and his mostly realistic renderings specifically welcome a contemporary readership. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The author of A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama (2006), Schlitz turns to a completely different kind of storytelling here. Using a series of interconnected monologues and dialogues featuring young people living in and around an English manor in 1255, she offers first-person character sketches that build upon each other to create a finer understanding of medieval life. The book was inspired by the necessity of creating a play suitable for a classroom where no one wanted a small part. Each of the 23 characters (between 10 and 15 years old) has a distinct personality and a societal role revealed not by recitation of facts but by revelation of memories, intentions, and attitudes. Sometimes in prose and more often in one of several verse forms, the writing varies nicely from one entry to the next. Historical notes appear in the vertical margins, and some double-page spreads carry short essays on topics related to individual narratives, such as falconry, the Crusades, and Jews in medieval society. Although often the characters' specific concerns are very much of their time, their outlooks and emotional states will be familiar to young people today. Reminiscent of medieval art, Byrd's lively ink drawings, tinted with watercolors, are a handsome addition to this well-designed book. This unusually fine collection of related monologues and dialogues promises to be a rewarding choice for performance or for reading aloud in the classroom.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2007 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-Couplets, blank verse, and prose bring children living in a medieval village in 1255 to life in this Newbery Medal-winning book (Candlewick, 2007) by Laura Amy Schlitz. Schlitz created these monologues for 23 characters, ranging in age between 10 and 15, to be performed by the students at the school where she is the librarian. A full cast of narrators do an exceptional job of distinguishing the different characters: the nephew of the Lord, a half-wit, a shepherdess, the blacksmith's daughter, a runaway villain, and others. Along the way, the host steps in and provides more in-depth explanations about topics such as pilgrimages, crusades, falconry, feudal land laws, and Jews in medieval society. The language is lyrical and the separate stories mesh to provide a rich picture of medieval life. Listeners will be drawn in and sympathize with the many different points of view that are offered. Robert Byrd's watercolor-tinted ink drawings add to the telling and will give teachers ideas for costumes. Youngsters who enjoy historical fiction will be enchanted. Drama, social studies, and English teachers will find multiple uses for this audio version. This performance breathes life into the print version and should be considered an essential purchase.-Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



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. Excerpted from Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.