“Father is a miller
As his father was of old,
And I shall be the miller,
When my father’s flesh is cold.
I know the family business –
It’s been drummed into my head:
How to cheat the hungry customer
And earn my daily bread.”
(Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Laura Amy Schlitz)
This lovely combination of poetry and expository text has made me wonder if I just love medieval times. Including these gorgeously crafted monologues, at least four of my top fifty books are medieval tales: The Once and Future King, Crispin, and Chaucer’s Canterbury tales. Although this set of poetry is a far cry from romanticizing the era, there is something compelling about knowing your place in the world, and also being able to practice occupations like falconry and glass blowing.
Although the Newbery committee already gave its stamp of approval in 2008, I would like to second their decision and say that this is one of the best bits of writing and information giving I’ve seen in a long while. The author, a librarian, actually planned these monologues to be read aloud by a class of students studying the middle ages, and this is one of few plays for young people that I can actually see working out. I wonder if a project or book like this could have made my late elementary school days better – perhaps it would have caught my interest instead of making me feel like school was such a chore.
Beverages: Tea, coffee and hot chocolate weren’t introduced to the west until well after the end of medieval times, you would be much more likely to have some cider, wine or milk if you were lucky. Out of those, I think that a Cider would do nicely here.