Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I

Red Rose of the House of Tudor

Royal Diaries
by Kathryn Lasky
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Hardcover, 237 pages
Current Retail Price: $10.95
Not in stock

Welcome to the bizarre court of Henry VIII, where even a princess fears losing her head like her mother. Elizabeth hides her tenacious personality from everyone, especially her father. Your 21st-century kid will enjoy Elizabeth's "treasonous thoughts" and glimpse the daily life of a young woman who ascended the throne at 25 and went on to rule her country for 45 years.

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  A Stepping Stone
Sincerelyornot, 6/27/2011
Overveiw: The royal diaries series is a nice stepping stone between fiction and biographies. Written by various authors, its historical fiction written in a first person, daily-diary-of-a-teenage-girl format. This one focuses on Elizabeth Tudor, the future Queen Elizabeth I of England. The formative years of Elizabeth I are often glossed over in light of her long reign, but plenty of interesting things are bound to happen when one of your siblings is on the throne and without heirs (and for Elizabeth Tudor, this happened twice).

Not working for me:
The author emphasizes the mystical beliefs of the time, implying that the young Elizabeth was interested in the occult. Not entirely unreasonable, yet, I'd have given it considerably less space. Elizabeth's mother was accused of being a witch, and in the book, Elizabeth has two ghostly encounters with Anne Boleyn. There are also several mentions of witches, tarrot cards, etc. Getting around it from a factual standpoint wasn't hard for me, especially given the first person nature of the book. I read this first at thirteen, and each child is different, so parents should be aware of this element in the story.

What works:
A diary entry format makes it easy to keep time-lines straight: to find the year of an event, for example, you just look for the heading for that "diary entry". The daily realities of Tudor court life are portrayed without inappropriate detail (with one exception, see above). Details about the Protest Reformation are added to the mix, along with a good polictical background of English history. Written in an engaging and lively style, Elizabth Tudor comes to life as a smart, fun-loving teenager. Most importantly, the reader is left with a sense of curiosity about Elizabeth's later life (and her mother's untimely death).

Further reading:
"Elizabeth I", by Mary M. Luke (long but extremely well written)
"Good Queen Bess", by Diane Stanley
"Life in Tudor Times," by Kate Thompson
"Tudor England", by S. T. Bindoff