Middle Ages Picture Books

A Medieval Feast

Book cover: 'A Medieval Feast'
Author(s): 
Aliki
Copyright: 
1983
Publisher: 
Harper Trophy
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
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Review: 

This is a children's story book about a fictional, but historically accurate, medieval feast (appropriate to about 1400 A.D.). The story starts from the very beginning, when the lord and lady of a manor receive notice that the King would be visiting for a few days. We see what immense preparations would start long before his arrival and the concern on the part of those hosting the feast because the king wouldn't be travelling alone - the queen, knights, squires and members of the court would make the feast a large and somewhat worrisome preparation. The colorful illustrations are inspired by medieval tapestries and are full of interesting details. The role of the Church is not forgotten as the bishop chants the grace before the meal and sits at the right hand of the king. Other details of life in the middle ages are included in the midst of the preparations for the feast and the feast itself, but the details don't go very deep. You see what happens but not much about how it happens. (My husband thought the book would have been improved by including some recipes and more descriptions of how things were made and how tasks were performed in those days). Nevertheless I think it's an interesting and worthwhile read for the little ones while their older siblings are studying the middle ages. You could probably find this one at your local library.

Review Date: 
4-7-2000
Reviewed by: 

Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction

Book cover: 'Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction'
Author(s): 
David Macaulay
Copyright: 
1973
Publisher: 
Houghton Mifflin Co.
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
80 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
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Review: 

An interesting, fully illustrated (with pen and ink drawings) story of the construction of a Medieval Cathedral. The cathedral in the book and the details of the story are fictional, but are based on details of what we know about the construction of real-life cathedrals. (Among other reasons, this technique makes sense because there probably aren't enough details known about the construction of any one Cathedral to make a book of this sort). In addition to scientific, artistic and architectural details about how flying buttresses work and other technical information, the author provides a glimpse into this significant aspect of Medieval life - how dedicated the townspeople were to the project, how many of those who started the project did not live to its completion (because it took so many years to build), difficulties that would come up in the midst of the construction, etc.

From what he has portrayed in this book, I believe that David Macaulay is trying to be fair to the Church. Unfortunately, there is one significant error with regard to Church teaching - on the first page. The problematic portion reads: "A new cathedral would offer a worthy resting place for the sacred remains of Saint Germain, a knight of the First Crusade whose skull and forefinger had later been sent back from Constantinople by Louis IX. Such relics as these were worshipped by people throughout Europe." I don't think that this error makes the book unusable, but parents should be certain that their children understand that Catholics are not permitted to worship saints relics, statues, images or any other thing or mere human. Worship is reserved for God alone (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). We pray to the Saints and to Our Lady only to ask them to pray and intercede for us because they are so close to God. Statues, images, relics and other sacramentals are not worshipped, but reverenced and venerated (treated with great respect, cherished and even devoutly kissed - even as we may kiss another person or the image of a dead beloved one) because they remind us of God or those who are close to God.

Review Date: 
4-18-01
Reviewed by: 

Galileo's Leaning Tower Experiment

Author(s): 
Wendy Macdonald
Illustrator(s): 
Paolo Rui
ISBN: 
1 570 918 698
Copyright: 
2009
Publisher: 
Charlesbridge
Binding: 
Glued Hardcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Subject(s): 
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
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Science readers are to be found if you look around enough as this book demonstrates. It is the fictional story of Massimo, a boy who regularly throws his uncle's lunch off a bridge to his boat as his uncle rows by below. Galileo happens to see that the bread and the cheese land at the same time. The story ends atop the leaning Tower of Pisa, as legend suggests Galileo did.

The illustrations are a little disappointing, the people in particular. The story is sometimes forced as math and science readers often are; however, overall it is a great tale that teaches a basic principle of physics sure to have your children dropping objects from heights. It even alludes to Galileo's ramp experiments on acceleration. The last page briefly fills in the reader on the period in history, what in the story is fact and fiction, and the formula for calculating speed.

Overall this is a great introductory physics science book.

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