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Friday, February 24, 2012

Reader Views Kids looks at Medieval Maidens titles

Reader Views was created in late 2005 as a book review company. The Austin, Texas based company later added a Reader Views Kids division where young readers are able to read and review books for their age category.

Medieval Maidens has had two of its titles go to Reader Views Kids for review: Gevrehan's Holiday Story by Lois Jarman in 2010 and Mary's Holiday Story by Tiffany Jansen in 2011. Both titles were reviewed by nine-year-old Madeline McElroy

Mary's Holiday Story is the second book in the Mary, daughter of Henry VII series and Gevrehan's Holiday Story is the second book in the Gevrehan, daughter of Sultan Mehmet II series.

Here's what Madeline had to say about Gevrehan's Holiday Story:
"I think “Gevrehan’s Holiday Story” can teach kids how other people lived in the Medieval Times."
Read the review.

Here's what Madeline had to stay about Mary's Holiday Story:
"I hope other kids will like “Mary's Holiday Story” just as much as I did."
Read the review.

Gevrehan's Holiday Story and Mary's Holiday Story can be purchased at the Medieval Maidens online store.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Learning Comes to Life Through Books

Tiffany and Felicity, learning together
When my daughter, Tiffany, was four years old, we moved into our first house. In our neighborhood were two girls who lived just two doors away. One was exactly Tiffany’s age and the other was two years older.

The three girls were inseparable, playing dress-up and Barbies. But there was one thing these girls played with that Tiffany knew nothing about: American Girl.

We thumbed through the catalog Tiffany brought home after a play date, looking at the dolls representing girls from various historic periods. Tiffany kept returning to the pages showing Kirsten and told me that if she could have one of the American Girls, Kirsten would be it.

A few weeks later, a box arrived for Tiffany containing the Kirsten doll and accompanying book. She excitedly grabbed the doll and the book from the box and was gone.

Within a matter of days, Tiffany had read through the book. We ordered the next and then the next, Tiffany devouring and re-reading each book in rapid succession. We ordered some of the doll accessories to build Kirsten’s world. And the girls played and played.

Later that year, we traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for an abbreviated vacation. At a museum near Stone Mountain, I noticed an object on display. To this day, I cannot remember what the item was. While my husband and I stood there wondering what it was and how it might have been used, Tiffany marched right up to the display case, took one look at the object, and launched into a very detailed explanation of what the piece was, what it did, and how it was used. When I asked her how she knew all of this, she said simply, “Oh, Kirsten has one.”

Not long after that, American Girl introduced Felicity. Tiffany put the doll, books, and some accessories on her Christmas list. After months of play with her second American Girl doll, Tiffany informed us that for vacation she really wanted to go to Williamsburg, Virginia. When we reminded her of our original plan to go to Disney, she replied, “No, I want to go to see where Felicity lived.”

The real magic of those dolls and books was the American history that my daughter learned. She relived history through the eyes of remarkable young girls who lived in those time periods.

Her learning inspired me, and the Medieval Maidens series is a result of that inspiration. It is my sincere hope that I can recreate that joy and enthusiasm for learning in the girls who pick up the Medieval Maidens books to discover Charlemagne’s Aachen through Gisela, France of the Middle ages through Adele and Isabelle, Medieval Istanbul through Gevrehan, and Renaissance England through Mary.

I am a firm believer that the best gift we can give our children is the gift of learning.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Story of Medieval Maidens

As I was placing a re-order for Gisela’s Story recently, it occurred to me that Gisela’s Story was first published in 2006. It’s been five years since I started Medieval Maidens and the time has flown by! To celebrate this milestone, I’d like to take you back in time with me to see how it all began…

Roughly a year before I tore open that first shipment of Gisela books hot off the presses, I took part in a Master’s in Humanities program at Hood Collage with a concentration in Medieval Studies. I found the history positively fascinating.

I found myself going on field trips to numerous museums and art galleries as part of my study and it was at the gift shop at one of these museums that the preverbial lightbulb went off over my head. In the children’s section of the shop I found an amazing book on medieval history.

There were pages and pages devoted to jousts and tournaments, weaponry and armor. This book was clearly targeting boys. I continued thumbing through the book and found absolutely nothing about what young girls did during the medieval period.

My attention turned to the rest of the sales items on the shelf devoted to the Middle Ages. Not a single item dedicated to teaching medieval history to girls.

I approached the sales clerk and asked where I might find medieval gifts and souvenirs with a focus on young girls. To my dismay, she directed me to a shelf brimming with tiaras, fairy wings, and Disney princesses.

That’s when I knew something had to be done. There needed to be books and toys dedicated to teaching young girls about the lives of their medieval counterparts. What if I were to create a product line that did for young girls and the Middle Ages what American Girl did for my daughter and American history?

I mentioned this hair-brained idea of medieval stories for young girls to my professor and she thought the idea was fabulous. One morning over coffee, we created a story line that would involve the daughters of real medieval kings. And, thus, Medieval Maidens was born.

The first princess would be Gisela, the third daughter of Charlemagne. His other daughters were Rotrude and Bertha, but I happened to like the name Gisela best.

The next king I selected was William I of England. I chose his daughter Adele because it was noted that when she was ten years old she received a copy of the St. Alban’s Psalter. I thought her gift of a book was significant, especially in the 11th century given that girls of that time period were often uneducated.

Louis IX’s daughter Isabelle was next in the series. Then a group of Brownie scouts convinced me that I should have a Sultan’s daughter in the series. My fourth princess then was Gevrehan, the daughter of Sultan Mehmed II.

At a school presentation, I was asked about the difference between the medieval period and the Renaissance. I pulled in the expertise of my daughter, Tiffany, who had been an actress at the Maryland Renaissance Festival and who was studying Renaissance history and art at Hood College. Together, we settled on Mary, Henry VIII’s little sister. Tiffany wrote the stories of our fifth princess.

Medieval Maidens has been discovered by Girl Scout councils on the east coast in Maryland, Virginia, West Virgina Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Educational programs have been presented in school districts in these states as well. In 2010, the Gisela series was named historical/educational Book of the Year, and in 2011, the Mary series earned the same distinction.