Schlitz, L. A. (2007). Good masters! sweet ladies! Boston, MA: Candlewick Press.
Schlitz helps the reader take a step back into an English village in 1255, where memorable characters tell their stories. Instead of the typical narrative structure, the book is styled as a series of poetic monologues and two dialogues. The words are spoken from the perspective of young medieval villagers from all walks of life. Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! is an inventive, historical fiction book that gives young readers a glimpse into Medieval England.
Textbook Assignment-Book Review:
In Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!, Schlittz helps the reader take a step back into an English village in 1255, where twenty-two memorable characters tell their stories. Instead of the typical narrative structure, the book is styled as a series of poetic monologues and two dialogues. The words are spoken from the perspective of young medieval villagers from all walks of life. It is interesting to see a portrayal of the Middle Ages lacking the common viewpoint of the lavish lives of lords and ladies. The accuracy from the side notes and descriptions of the towns as well as the villages give the reader a portrayal of the dirt and filth in which most medieval people lived. We see many of the negative aspects of lives no matter their station. Isobel might be the Lord’s daughter, but that doesn’t save her from the disgusting dung that is thrown at her; Alice is a poor shepherdess, but she learns about life, tenderness, and care through her love of her sheep, Jill. Although starvation, lice, death, disease, and hypocrisy are all noted, the lighter side of life can also be seen within some of these impoverished characters.
Curtis, C. P. (1995). The Watsons go to Birmingham-1963 . NY: Delacorte.
The Watsons go to Birmingham-1963 is a gut-wrenching story of a family’s trip down to Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement. Kenny and his from live in Michigan, so they are far removed from the turmoil in the south until they travel to see his mother’s family. They experience racism and even death during their short trip in the summer of 1963, and these issues cause Kenny difficulty in in trying to process what he has seen.
Textbook Assignment-Book Review:
Most of the book, The Watsons go to Birmingham-1963, is comedic because it is told in Kenny’s voice with exaggeration and vivid descriptions. Kenny and his brother, Byron, have a tumultuous relationship caused by their differing personalities, but that changes during their time in Birmingham. When their younger sister, Joetta, is not killed in a church bombing, death becomes a reality to both Kenny and Byron. Kenny has an especially difficult time with understanding the church bombing and deaths of innocent children, but Byron is able to step into the role of big brother. Byron figures out what is going on with Kenny and cooly figures out how to help Kenny in his own way. Like the brothers, Flint and Birmingham are also contrasted from the very beginning of the novel. When Momma starts talking about how great things are in Alabama, Dad reminds her of things like the colored only restrooms. The 1960s were a raucous time in Alabama, but the Watsons were separated from that world due to their living in Flint in the northern United States. Their trip to Birmingham and the realities about the difference in these two cities play an ever important role in the plot of the story.