Newbery Books discussion

2008 Book of the Month > Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 25 comments Mod
I don't know anything about it, but I'd love to check it out. I'm a little wary about it being described as a "collection of monologues and dialogues," though.

message 2: by Kristine (new)

Kristine (kristine_a) | 140 comments Mod
Since there was already a thread about the book we'll just start discussing here starting May 1. I got my book last night at the library. It does look interesting.

message 3: by Jennifer Marie (new)

Jennifer Marie | 1 comments I just read it this weekend. The "monologues" aren't that bad, but it's not really a's just events from each town members life and some of them interact with each other. It's interesting to learn about a Medieval town, but I'd have preferred to have more invested in the characters...It just reads a short pieces to me not really a whole story. It's a short read though...

message 4: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 25 comments Mod
JM, you should join us for the book group--this one's our first book, starting May 1 right here in this very thread!

message 5: by Annette (last edited May 01, 2008 07:53AM) (new)

Annette (noblegirl) | 49 comments I really liked the book because it was entertaining as well as educational. I thought the historical facts in the margin were a nice touch and I liked the illustrations, too!
As I was reading it I was imagining kids, 12-14 years old, all dressed in medieval costumes performing their lines. For some reason this made it even more fun to read.
If I were a middle school teacher, I would definitely use this in my classroom.

message 6: by Brandy (new)

Brandy | 23 comments First off, I will just get it out on the table, I don't like shakespeare lauguage. There, I said it. This book was too much like that. Now, if I was in a classroom and that was the unit we were studying and we were required to read that type of stuff, then I might get into it. The stories are good if you get past the language. This book was just like that for me. This is not the type of book I pick up for entertainment value. This is more of a book I would classify as an educational suppliment. Something that would be required reading at school. I know that is the intent of the author. I think that is great! The thing that I don't think is great is that it won an award. To me it is like giving a math or spelling book and award and telling the general public how great it was. I know that my dislike for this type of medieval language really impacted my view of the book. I know that I am not the best judge in this situation. For me, I would neither recommend it or not recommend it. If people were to ask me about it, I would tell them what it was and let them decide without letting my distaste in. But since this is a book club and we are supposed to be sharing our opinions I thought I would!

Oh and I agree with whoever said that the characters lacked debth because of the short chapters. And, I will be honest, I didn't read the whole thing. (Man, I am really making myself look terrible here!) Maybe it got better toward the end.

message 7: by Kristine (last edited May 01, 2008 08:15AM) (new)

Kristine (kristine_a) | 140 comments Mod
First off I also want to get out into the open that I've never been a big fan of poetry or Shakespeare either. I didn't expect to really like the book . . . dialogues and monologues? really? uhhhh!

That being said, I began to like it. And I initially rated it 4 stars because it really surprised me how much I liked it. I will have to disagree with the characters lacking depth because I actually really connected to all of them in a weird way. Like I was living in their time. It made me really want to be a part of the author's middle school while they do their medieval unit. My favorite story was of the two sisters talking about Piers -- I thought it was really funny. And I was amazed how she was able to cover so many topics related to life in that time period - the crusades, Jewish discrimination, plowsharing, domestic abuse, flirting on may day, (I was hoping to see the wedding of Drogo and Nelly, even - sigh!), etc. My heart even ached for Taggot (the blacksmiths daughter) and Barbary (the mud slinger). So I probably would have awarded it only 3 stars -- but just because it's not my style of book and I actually enjoyed it - it earned 4 stars for me.

Now on to the award -- the actual Newbery award has the words "for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children". There is always a lot of discussion back and forth about why this book won the Newbery over that one. And Just looking at the list of award winners you can see that every once in a while they choose something that isn't a "good story" or a "good read" (Joyful Noise-Poetry for Two Voices, Lincoln's Photobiography, etc.) because it makes sense for them to award excellence in all types of children's lit, not just fiction. So I can actually understand why they gave this the Newbery but I'm not sure I agree with it - the jury's out for me.

I don't think kids are going to pick this up and read it. They don't have to -- it will likely become a staple in children's education and when they do read it (or perform it) I think they will enjoy it and learn TONS from it.

message 8: by Annette (new)

Annette (noblegirl) | 49 comments I don't like Shakespeare either, but not because of the language, it's because I have always thought of him as a "dirty old man". His mind always seems to be in the gutter. Anyway, I agree with everything that Kristine said except that I do feel that this book deserved to win the Newberry Medal Award. I honestly feel that this is a "disguished contribution to American Literature for Children". I really hope that it does become a staple in children's education. I think that it would be a fine addition to every school library.
Incidently, I read Lincoln's Photobiography and loved it! I know I'm a nerd. :-)

message 9: by Kathy (new)

Kathy | 60 comments I'm not quite sure this is the way to add my comments to the discussion of a particular book but here goes: It took me awhile to get used to the poetry in Good Masters!Sweet Ladies!, but once I did I enjoyed all the monologues, duets, footnotes, and background paragraphs about life in a medieval village. I imagine 4th and 5th graders would have fun putting on a show for their families. It could be a colorful evening.

message 10: by Kristine (new)

Kristine (kristine_a) | 140 comments Mod
that was fun, imagining a bunch of kids acting these scenes out. I seriously felt bad for the girl who had to act the sheep girl -- being suckled by a lamb and having to birth the baby lamb by yourself? I wouldn't want to act that part!

message 11: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette I loved this book. I thought it was creative and original. I thought the author did a wonderful job at bringing the middle ages to life through the eyes of young children. She painted a realistic picture but did it in a fun and entertaining way. I imagine these monologues would be fun to use not only at school but also at home with my kids. We were always putting on plays and things like this when I was a kid. I just wish I had something like this to use back then!
I am curious to know which character/s you all enjoyed the most or least? I really enjoyed Thomas, the doctors son. I also enjoyed Barbary the mud slinger. I also really enjoyed Mogg, the villein's daughter, Piers, the glassblower's apprentice and Mariot and Maud, the glassblower's daughters.
As far as winning the Newbery goes, I think this is just the type of book that should win. It was original and it definitely made a contribution to American children's literature. (Now the 2007 winner? I hated that one but I guess that is for a discussion for another time.)

message 12: by Annette (new)

Annette (noblegirl) | 49 comments Wow Jeanette! It looks like we are in complete agreement on this particular read! I think that my favorite characters were Mariot and Maud the glassblowers daughters.

message 13: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 25 comments Mod
It was more interesting than I expected, so I was happy about that. A few of the stories were kind of cute and engaging. I, too, liked the sisters. I understand how it could be considered a notable contribution to children's literature.

But it doesn't strike me as the kind of book children would enjoy, would choose to read on their own, would finish if it weren't assigned in school. I'm sure I wouldn't have had much patience for it when I was ten. The language does present a bit of a challenge for a child, plus the fact that it's written in cadence, the subtlety of the stories, and, probably the most damning aspect: It's meant to be assigned to children to memorize. Ouch. I mean, I couldn't even memorize the to be or not to be monologue for high school english class. I'm sure there are plenty of children for whom this would be a source of pure dread and torture.

(To be or not to be, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to lay down arms against a sea of oppressions, and by something-or-other, end them. Something else goes here. To sleep. To sleep, perchance to dream. Aye, there's the rub. For in such sleep of death what dreams may come...shuffle off this mortal coil...nope, that's the best I can do, and even most of that's probably wrong)

message 14: by Dawn (last edited May 03, 2008 07:29PM) (new)

Dawn | 66 comments I actually like and respect Shakespeare and I like poetry. Someone has to speak up for that! Yes, I was a literature major. :) I enjoyed the book. It was very informative about medieval times, but in a fun way. Even though we only know the characters briefly, I thought they were presented sympathetically with something the reader could connect with in each one. I would also enjoy seeing it performed. My eleven year old son even picked it up. He didn't read all of it, but he commented positively on the part he did read. Okay, my son is a bit precocious, but I do think kids would enjoy performing it. I didn't think the language was too hard--it's written for kids. I didn't love it, just liked it, so I would probably give it three stars. I wouldn't have said it deserved the Newbery either, but after reading some of the discussion about "distinguished contribution to children's lit," maybe so. I usually prefer to read stories, but book clubs are good for getting us to try stuff that we might not otherwise read. That's good for me--it makes me feel enriched. :) I liked the sisters and others. My least favorite was the tanner or the beggar. But I had to feel for them, too, struggling to survive. Children really weren't allowed to be children until fairly recently in history. Too much work needed just to help their family survive.

message 15: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 29 comments My computer died on April 30th. So I havn't been able to post anything yet. I will write my coments later but for a quick note here. I loved the book and thought it was great. One of the goals for the award books is that they teach, language, history anything. I thought this succeded in a fun way.

message 16: by Liz (new)

Liz (hissheep) Have it on reserve at my local library; not sure I want to read the story from the Baltimore Sun and possibly spoil my impression ...

message 17: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (affie) | 13 comments I liked this book more than I thought I would.
I feel though, that it is a book that appeals more to people that seem to fall into our 'category'- Adults who like to read Children/YA lit. I think this is a great book for kids to use/read in class when studying a unit on Medeval history, but I don't really feel that this is a book that most kids would just pick up off the shelf. I almost understand why the book won the award. The only trouble I have with it winning the award for most distinguished contribution is wondering how a book can make a contribution to children's literature if it is never read.
A side note, I also got the impression that the author didn't really like Christians, especially Christians who were around during the time of the Crusades...

message 18: by Leigh (new)

Leigh (leighb) I liked it, but understand why it's winning the Newbery was so controversial. It isn't what I think of as a typical Newbery winner. And it was in the time frame of when the Newbery winners were a bit more pedantic than usual. Fortunately, that trend ended with Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.

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