This is a blog specifically created for the purposes of my Literature for Children and Young Adults class at Texas Woman's University. Coming soon will be reviews of titles ranging from children's fiction to poetry to young adult novels. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Good Queen Bess

Stanley, Diane & Peter Vennema. 1990. Good Queen Bess: The Story of Elizabeth I of England. New York: Four Winds. ISBN 0688179614.

Good Queen Bess also known as Elizabeth I of England might be considered one of the world’s first feminists. Her stubborn determination, shrewd diplomacy, tolerance of difference and religious freedom and her sincere love for her people made her loved by not only her subjects but also her enemies. As the daughter of the infamous Henry VIII, she used both her “feminine wiles,” her keen intellect and a cunning cleverness to get what she wanted by playing all parties against one another. Her reign is considered one of such peace and prosperity that it is called the “Elizabethan Age.” She makes easy spoils of her rivals Mary, Queen of Scots and King Philip II of Spain and his ill-fated armada.

While every page is “true,” not one of them is boring. Whereas most history books might present the facts about Queen Elizabeth I of England, Good Queen Bess gives the dirt. Doing so turns historical figures into real life people—from whom it is easier to glean life lessons and examples. The story is breathtakingly exciting, complete with romance, warfare, art and triumph and this is echoed in the colorful, bright, true-to-period illustrations. Each page is dominated by the illustrations, limiting the actual text into short, digestible passages in a language that is interesting, factual and yet accessible to children of all ages.

School Library Journal says, “Although the format suggests a picture-book audience, this biography needs to be introduced to older readers who have the background to appreciate and understand this woman who dominated and named an age… The text is clearly written, explaining the main events and key decisions of Elizabeth's life and reign.”

Notable Book in the Field of Social Studies
ALA Notable Book
Booklist Editor’s Choice
American Bestseller Pick of the Lists
Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book
IRA Teacher’s Choice

Good Queen Bess would be a great introduction into the feminism. Children could discuss the roles that women and men have played in history—Elizabeth I was a fierce fighter, driven stateswoman and fair ruler, all while possessing all the characteristics deemed “feminine” for her time. This is a wonderful book for young girls or teens. It could also facilitate discussions on the role religion plays in government.

Reviewed by Joelie Key-Tissot 10/22/06.


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