If You Were Me And Lived in Elizabethan England: Carole Roman
Illustrated in color by Paula Tabor
Which England would suit you better the first one with all of the modern conveniences or the one from the 1600’s? if you were me and lived back then you would have been born over 400 years ago. This time period brought on many changes following the Middle Ages where people were open to learning and doing new things. The word Renaissance comes into play during this time and it means “rebirth of ideas and new points of view.” This time period is called or referred to as the Elizabethan time period because Elizabeth I was the queen of England. England became a super power under her rule as she sent out explorers to find and learn about new lands and bring back what they discovered or found. People were rich but a new class of people called merchants was born. They were extremely rich and they used their wealth to pay for artists to paint portraits or write poetry or literature like William Shakespeare. This time period was called the golden age for art and literature. It must have exciting and educational to live in England at this time.
Names are important and have to fit where you live so if you were born and lived in England you might have been named Mary or Elizabeth if you were a girl and John or Henry for boys. Imagine learning a trade at a young age because your family was not rich and your great-grandfather lost it all because his land was turned from farming to herding sheep. He had to work for a baker, became an apprentice and he was lucky because he married the baker’s daughter and you got to work along with him with your sisters and brothers.
London was busy with lots of things going on. People walked in the streets, but sometimes they littered by throwing dirt, garbage and waste out the window. Imagine living without a bathroom and you had to smell the waste in the garbage pails. Not even an outhouse. It was dangerous and pickpockets robbed some people and birds called Kites lived on rooftops. Check out the picture on page 11. The author shares information on pages 12 and 13, which includes a picture of where you might live, the bakery, your room, where you mixed some herbs and more. Learn the rest and smell the bread when you read these pages. See where your grandmother lived and learn about her sister, Nan, who worked in a grand house in Bedfordshire in the country. See the shape of the house as an E for Elizabeth the queen and picture the inside with the great fireplace. Go inside the house along with the author and see the long picture gallery and the portraits by the famous artists of all the baron’s ancestors. Imagine a gold trimmed frame and even more so many walls and windows made of glass.
Dinner was not like here in America at this time it was like lunchtime between 11 and 12 noon and supper was around the time in the evening when you closed the bakery. Check out the kitchen, the smells of the delicious homemade breads, fish, chocolate and learn about the holidays and why meat was not allowed on a specific day. The picture on page 22 shows the family eating and you will learn about your diet, your drinks and more as the food is cooked over an open stove. Can you smell the amazing foods and the many different aromas? Just like some today drive fancy cars and can afford to eat in expensive restaurants the wealthy back then dined on all sorts of meats, birds, rabbits and other foods not available to the lower classes. If you could only be there. Check out your room and where you slept and the clothing you wore much different than today and decide whether this would suit you as you see the family getting ready for bed on page 27.
There are fairs, there are jugglers, shows and the author shares something I know you will want to learn about currency and money and how it differs from ours and the values compared to ours in pounds. Girls did not go to school and your Pap said that your education began at home where you learned manners and saying your prayers. Wonder how girls today would feel about that. Boys were luckier and went to school and he really hated the long hours and you will not believe where he went and why. Plays were organized by acting companies check out the picture on page 35 and learn what actors back then had to do to prepare for a show as opposed to today. Learn about Shakespeare and his work. Finally, religion was paramount and the author shares a magnificent picture illustrated as the others were in color by Paula Tabor making the era come to life even more. The church is magnificent and she shares information about the Catholic church. The end of the book she shares important people that lived during that time period: artists, writers, painters and more. Plus to understand the language differences and vocabulary she includes a glossary of terms. All those educators out there this is a great resource to teach children of any age about this exciting time period and assign one of the people as a research project to older students. It might be fun for them to write about themselves living during that time period and relate how they feel about the different clothes, rules and customs. If You Were Me And Lived in Elizabethan England what would you be doing?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine