Author: Laura Amy Schlitz
Published: 2007 Candlewick Press
Read For: School, Aloud to my kiddos
My Rating: 4 stars
Despite the glowing reviews I'd read of this book, and the shiny gold medal affixed to the front cover, I remained skeptical about how much enjoyment could be found in a book which looked rather dry and unapproachable. The fact that it was written by a school librarian for her students to perform only added to my skepticism: how could a group of 19 monologues and 2 dialogues possibly end up as an entertaining whole?
Whether it is because I read the plays aloud, or because I read it with the intention of teaching/learning about the Middle Ages, I ended up enjoying this collection much more than I thought I would. In fact, my final thought was: What a perfect way to get an overview of Medieval times. It is impressive in its uniqueness and wholeness, in its ability to retain humor while teaching, in how easy it is to follow even with the large amount of characters and information. In these small sketches (and the bits of background information) we learn about religion and class restrictions, government and war, relationships and business. We get to know people, their behavior, feelings, opinions and activities.
I'm not a huge fan of poetry, but I did enjoy what was included in this book. It would be great fun to see them performed. I now understand why, even though the book seemed to be a bit of an oddball choice for the Newbery, it is so valuable. Not a typical story, to be sure, but exactly what was lacking in Junior Fiction/Nonfiction.