Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 13
- Grade: 4 to 7
What if you could spend a day in the shoes of a child in the middle ages? What would you learn about cultures of the past? On A Medieval Day, part of the On a Day Story Voyages series, uses nine exceptional pieces of historical fiction to give kids just that opportunity. Contrary to the commonly Euro-centric associations of the word “medieval,” On A Medieval Day visits cultures from Japan to Mali and spans nearly 800 years of world history. From Viking explorers and religious persecution in Spain, to medical advances in Baghdad and early ball sports in the Mayan Empire, this book challenges assumptions and enlightens young readers to the complex and fascinating civilizations that have all shaped our world. Told through the eyes of boys and girls aged 12 to 14, kids are able to follow each character through a single day. These stories are further expressed through the commanding portraits painted by artist Peter Ferguson. Each story is further augmented by detailed background pages that use facts, maps and illustrations to bring readers further into this history.
About the authors
Rona Arato is a children’s author with a strong interest in human rights. As a writer and editor for over twenty years, she has written on a wide variety of subjects including education, business, travel, fashion and Internet technology. Her work has appeared in mag-azines and newspapers in Canada, the United States, and England. Rona is the author of Fossils, Clues to Ancient Life and World of Water (Crabtree, 2004) and Ice Cream Town (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2007). Her new books include Working for Freedom: The Story of Josiah Henson for Napoleon (Fall 2008), Making a Difference for Maple Tree Press (Fall 2008), and Design It! for Tundra Books (Spring 2009). Rona began writing in the mid 1970s while raising her three children. She has also worked as a public relations consultant for profit and non-profit. She has taught adult Creative Writing for the Toronto District Board and conducted business writing workshops for profit and non-profit organizations in the Toronto area. She has written educational materials for organizations including Mosdos Press in Cleveland, Girl Guides of Canada, and B’nai Brith Canada. From 1994-1998, Rona had the privilege of serving as an interviewer for Survivors of the Shoa, a Steven Spielberg project that recorded the histories of Holocaust survivors. It was this experience that fostered her interest in and desire to write about human rights. Rona discovered Josiah Henson’s story while researching a project on Canadian heroes. She was immediately taken with his strength and courage in the face of seemingly insur-mountable obstacles. His dedication to human rights and freedom spoke to her heart and she hopes that his story will affect others, especially youth, in the same way it has affected her.
PETER FERGUSON has been illustrating books for nine years. His art appears on the covers of many children’s books including The Sisters Grimm series. Originally from Montreal, he lives with his wife in Tokyo, Japan.
By covering medieval times outside Europe, this book is a welcome addition to the wealth of books about the Middle Ages.
Arato's shifting points of view, gender and cultural sensitivity within each chapter, not only provides a good introduction to these countries, but a compassionate story as well...[On a Medieval Day] will inspire an appreciation for the diversity of culture, politics and spiritual traditions of this period.
Canadian Children's Book News
I applaud Arato's compilation of varied stories...a refreshing and unique approach that will interest young readers.
The collection may pique readers' interest in finding out more about some of this realms and eras.
Stunning paintings illustrate each chapter and youthful figures provide an instant empathic connection and invitation to contrast life in medieval times to an adolescent's life today.
The Midwest Book Review
A gorgeous book to be savored, read aloud, and enjoyed repeatedly.
Quill & Quire
Smoothly written and sometimes dramatic, the entries offer glimpses of different cultures within well-structured narratives.
The fast-paced stories make for entertaining reading…a wonderful attempt to expand the usual concept of the medieval world beyond Europe.
School Library Journal
Arato’s stories provide readers with interesting and unique perspectives on a period of history which is usually described in terms of knights, squires, monks and peasants…a good resource for social studies classes.
CM Magazine: Canadian Review of Materials
On a Medieval Day: Story Voyages Around the WorldChildren’s books on the Middle Ages, traditionally focus on idealized and romantic notions about English and French nobility, ignoring the period’s complex religious, cultural and social diversity. By expanding the definition of this period to include countries from the world, Rona Arato’s On a Medieval Day: Story Voyages Around the World, departs from the norm and offers kids new and exciting perspectives on the Medieval World.
From a popular sporting event of the ancient Mayans to the precarious situation of the conversos in Medieval Spain, Arato’s combination of historical fiction and fact provide a structure and context for each chapter. Each section begins with a short story of the day in the life of a young adult whose life is about to change in a significant way. Although there are some anachronisms in dialogue and character motivations, Arato’s shifting points of view, gender and cultural sensitivity within each chapter, not only provides a good introduction to these countries, but a compassionate story as well.
The two-page fact sheet at the end of each section has some nice touches; including a map comparing where the story took place and its modern geographical location, and four points that references back to something that happened in the story.
On a Medieval Day is excellent for classroom study and discussion and for students interested in history, as it will inspire an appreciation for the diversity of culture, politics and spiritual traditions of this period.
Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2011. Volume 34 No. 2.
Other titles by Rona Arato
Righting Canada's Wrongs: Anti-Semitism and the MS St. Louis
Canada's Anti-Semitic Policies in the Twentieth Century
The Last Train
A Holocaust Story
The Ship to Nowhere
On Board the Exodus
Sammy and the Headless Horseman
On an American Day Volume 1
Story Voyages through History 1750–1899
The Ordinary Things We Use Every Day and the Not-So-Ordinary Ways They Came to Be
Mrs. Kaputnik's Pool Hall and Matzo Ball Emporium
Protists: Algae, Amoebas, Plankton, and Other Protists
On a Canadian Day
Nine Story Voyages through History
Working for Freedom
The Story of Josiah Henson