Biographical narrative combines with activities to bring good Queen Bess to life, with mixed results.
Queen Elizabeth’s reign, like Shakespeare’s theater, was high drama, and during that reign the tiny island nation of England rose in stature among world powers. It was the Age of Exploration, the era of the Reformation, a time of drama in politics, in the church and on the high seas. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, but the king longed for a boy, an heir to the throne, and Henry’s divorces and multiple marriages in pursuit of a male heir caused much political and religious unrest. Elizabeth’s 45-year reign, though, was long and strong, as she made little England a military power and cultural giant. Billed as an “interactive biography,” this attractive entry in the For Kids series offers 21 activities to supplement the text and provide a sense of what Elizabethan England was all about, but there is a disconnect between the challenging, dense historical narrative and the activities, which include carving turnips, dancing courtly dances, singing madrigals and munching on marzipan. The many illustrations, maps, sidebars and the descriptions of activities accomplish what the text, as well written as it is, may not, by enlivening the volume and offering parents and teachers a way to make the era come alive.
A very qualified success. (timeline, bibliography, index) (Biography. 9 & up)