Saturday, 25 January 2014

Review: I Am #10: Cleopatra by Grace Norwich, illus. by Elisabeth Alba

Part of Scholastic's I Am series, Cleopatra was published January 2014. Aimed at readers ages 8-10, this is an excellent historical reference in a biographical/autobiographical hybrid format. It's a light, yet in-depth look at Cleopatra's life, politics, and legend.

Summary: As the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt, I ruled alone without the help of my husband. I was a powerful and courageous leader, and I passionately loved my people. Much has been written of my beauty, but I was also known for my composure, wit, and strength. I was a queen who was worshipped as a god. I am Cleopatra.

To this day, Cleopatra remains a popular figure in Western culture, with books, plays, and movies devoted to her story. I Am Cleopatra will follow her journey from its illustrious beginning to its tragic end. Learn all about this legendary queen's fascinating life in Scholastic's I AM biography series.

Filled with illustrations and divided into concise chapters, Cleopatra is a well-written and beautifully illustrated book. Readers will learn of Cleopatra's early years, her rise to becoming pharaoh, her family, her romantic relationships with Caesar and Antony, her children, politics, and her demise. Told in a narrative format, the text is accessible and meets the needs of the target audience. (Short attention spans and reluctant readers of educational texts won't find this book difficult!) Each chapter is only a few pages long, and includes sub-headings to further break up the text. The illustrations are a cross between sketches and cartoon-like drawings, which will deter readers from considering the book to be a dry, history lesson in disguise. 

The book includes side notes, terms, and timelines which introduces relevant subjects such as hieroglyphics and understanding BCE and CE. It also provides the reader with photographs of art and of important geographical locations. Cleopatra is perfect for beginner readers who need to gain an understanding of Cleopatra and of her connections to the Roman empire for both educational and personal interest purposes.

Furthermore, the book is an excellent companion for readers who enjoy Rick Riordan's books. The writing style is comparable and the information is relevant to expanding on the content Riordan writes about, particularly in The Kane Chronicles

5 Stars 

Note: This review is written using an ARC version of I Am #10: Cleopatra.

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