Perfect for fans of The Beatryce Prophecy and Catherine, Called Birdy, this “spirited” (Booklist) historical middle grade coming-of-age story set in medieval times follows a strong-minded girl determined to prove she’s just as good a candlemaker as any boy.
Scholastica, or “Tick,” has grown up helping her father make candles in his shop. The experience has its ups and downs—while constantly smelling like tallow makes it hard for Tick to keep friends, stray cats love her. Still, she delights in the work and the fact that she can help Papa. Every summer, they use the long daylight hours to make as many candles as possible to sell at the Stourbridge Fair, the highlight of their year. And this year Tick is finally going to be allowed to make the special Agnus Dei charms that keep travelers safe.
Because she’s a girl, Tick can never be a true apprentice in the trade, but if she gets to do the job anyway, does it matter what she’s called? But one morning she finds a boy sitting at her workbench. Papa has taken on an apprentice and now Tick is forbidden from helping with the candle-making.
Tick isn’t about to stand for this unfairness. She’s going prove to Papa that she deserves to be his apprentice, even if it means sneaking away to the Fair…
J. Anderson Coats has master’s degrees in history and library science and has published short stories in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. She is the author of the acclaimed novels The Wicked and the Just, The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming, R Is for Rebel, The Green Children of Woolpit, and The Night Ride, as well as A Season Most Unfair. She lives with her family in Washington State. Visit her at JAndersonCoats.com.
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (June 20, 2023)
"In this bright, engaging tale set in medieval England, Coats lightly interweaves medieval craft and culture with deeper questions about work, value, and getting around the status quo. . . Coats is a lively, capable storyteller and intelligently dovetails historical detail with issues—and a self-aware expressiveness in this first-person, present-tense narrative—that resonate today. Her plot twists, turns, and hinges on a pleasing, convincing mix of medieval practices and unusual but realistic circumstances that provide for a hopeful ending."
– Horn Book Magazine
"From detailed accounts of the chandler’s trade to the rules of the fair, the book’s medieval English setting appears to be well researched. Still, it’s Tick’s first-person narrative that will draw readers into her story and hold them until the end with a spirited account of her adventures, reflections, and conclusions. A satisfying choice for historical fiction fans."
"Coats deftly layers headstrong Tick’s efforts to remain close to her papa, and her annoyance with traditional gender roles, in a feminist tale with a persuasively rendered historical setting."