Monday, October 14, 2013

History Tidbit: Feudalism

It took almost two months for Till Year's Good End by W. Nikola-Lisa to become available at my local library. It was worth the wait. There are so many books about knights and castles. There's nothing wrong with those. At the moment I'd say we have a stack of books on those subjects at least a foot high. It's much harder to find books about the lower classes of society. This book is something entirely different from the average medieval picture book which is devoted to glittering armor and formidable defenses. It depicts the class whose labor and servitude made feudalism possible.

The text follows the lives of medieval peasants month by month through a full year. Each month is depicted on a two page spread which begins with four lines of verse that are followed by a paragraph in prose describing the chores and feudal obligations associated with that particular month. The majority of each spread is devoted to a full color illustration by Christopher Manson. His work melds strong definitive strokes with nuanced color. The scenes beautifully depict the various tasks and activities described by the text. You'll be able to point out objects and practices for which your child might not have a mental image. Both art and text are engaging and informative. You won't find extra blurbs or captions. Unlike many nonfiction picture books, text, art, and information are woven together and presented seamlessly. If you're studying the Middle Ages, this is one book you definitely don't want to miss.

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