By Laura Amy Schlitz
Candlewick Press, 2007
Maidens, monks, and millers’ sons — in these pages, readers will meet them all. There’s Hugo, the lord’s nephew, forced to prove his manhood by hunting a wild boar; sharp-tongued Nelly, who supports her family by selling live eels; and the peasant’s daughter, Mogg, who gets a clever lesson in how to save a cow from a greedy landlord. There’s also mud-slinging Barbary (and her noble victim); Jack, the compassionate half-wit; Alice, the singing shepherdess; and many more.
With a deep appreciation for the period and a grand affection for both characters and audience, Laura Amy Schlitz creates twenty-two riveting portraits and linguistic gems equally suited to silent reading or performance. Illustrated with pen-and-ink drawings by Robert Byrd — inspired by the Munich-Nuremberg manuscript, an illuminated poem from thirteenth-century Germany — this witty, historically accurate, and utterly human collection forms an exquisite bridge to the people and places of medieval England.
Step back to an English village in 1255, where life plays out in dramatic vignettes illuminating twenty-two unforgettable characters.
Mud Slingers, Snigglers, and Fleas: A Tour of a 13th-Century Village – interview with Laura Amy Schlitz, from School Library Journal
Interview with Laura Amy Schlitz – from NBC’s Today Show
Winner of the 2008 Newbury Award – “Schlitz adds a new dimension to books for young readers – performance,” said Committee Chair Nina Lindsay. “Varied poetic forms and styles offer humor, pathos and true insight into the human condition. Each entry is superb in itself, and together the pieces create a pageant that transports readers to a different time and place.”
Book Review from the New York Times – Schlitz is a talented storyteller. Her language is forceful, and learning slips in on the sly. She explains crop rotation through a boy who must plow the family fields after his father’s death and who confesses puzzlement over the concept of a field laying fallow. “I don’t know why the fields have the right to rest when people don’t.”