Monday, February 1, 2010

Nonfiction Mondays: "Doomed Queens" by Kris Waldherr

Happy Nonfiction Monday! It looks like it's Wild About Nature blog's anniversary and they are having a giveaway as well as hosting the Nonfiction Monday Roundup. You can read about interesting nonfiction books to add to your collections as well as maybe win a book! Now you have to go and visit Wild About Nature.
This weekend I read Doomed Queens:Royal Women who met bad ends, from Cleopatra to Princess Di by Kris Waldherr, who is the author and illustrator of the amazing read. You can read her blog here. Doomed Queens was published in 2008 from Broadway Books.
What Caught My Eye: My friend, Marci Washington, who's a painter, had a series she painted of severed heads and this book cover reminded me of them. Also, "Doomed Queens" just really made me want to pick this up. Why? Do these women ever get a break? And sometimes you just want to get straight to the chase on how these women met their end.
Why I didn't put it down: This reads like collection of obituaries for Queens which reminded me of another book I really liked called The Dead Beat by Marilyn Johnson (who's also got a book coming our about libraries that comes out tomorrow!!!). I also loved Waldherr's illustrations, choice of quotes, sidebars and legend for how these monarchs died. It is actually filled with a number of primary source quotes if you have students who need those for a project. For example, Waldherr highlights quotes from the queens and titles them "Out of the Mouths of Babes" for Boudicca she quotes "It is not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged chastity of my daughters...This is a womean's resolve. As for men, they may live and be slaves." These asides will make a reader more want to learn more about Boudicca or any other monarch to learn about what had happened to her and her family as well as what was happening in that time period.
It was really fascinating read and I did not want to put it down. The sections on each queen are about 2-3 pages long. Waldherr covers as many queens as possible from Europe to China to India. One of the strange facts I picked up was the last person to commit sati (suttee), which is when a widow commits suicide to join her dead husband (read about it on that link because I am NOT doing it justice with my layperson's definition), was in 1987!!!! Now it's outlawed but 1987 was not that long ago. Another great thing about this book were the "cautionary morals" at the end like "have an exit strategy" or "an emperor's loyalty is to his heirs, not his empress." Honestly, it kept me wanting to read more.
Who Would I Recommend This To: It is good for middle schoolers, high schoolers and adults who like a little bit of gossip to go with their history reading. Someone who just wants a quick read about doomed queens.

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