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CLEOPATRA by Mary Fisk Pack


"Serpent of the Nile"

From the Thinking Girl's Treasury of Dastardly Dames series

by Mary Fisk Pack illustrated by Peter Malone

Age Range: 9 - 13

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9834256-0-1
Publisher: Goosebottom Books

One of six books in a series that aims to get girls interested in female historical figures.

The layout of this title—with bold, appealing images, maps and timelines taking center stage against richly colored backgrounds—gives it the look and feel of a magazine. Readers will no doubt be attracted to the cover and engaged enough by the images inside to keep turning pages. The content of the prose, however, is sadly lacking. The text includes interesting sections on what Cleopatra ate, where she lived and what she wore; aside from that, the focus is on what makes her “dastardly,” in keeping with the series’ title—The Thinking Girls Treasury of Dastardly Dames. Readers learn of her seduction of Caesar and Mark Anthony and her role in Mark Anthony’s death. Just about everything else is omitted, including context to help readers understand Cleopatra’s dastardly deeds and any positive contributions associated with her rule. What’s more, readers are not provided with suggestions for further reading to fill in these gaps, nor are they provided with a basic list of references for the information contained in this text. Similarly flawed titles in the series feature Agrippina, Mary Tudor, Catherine De’Medici, Marie Anoinette and Cixi.

An interesting concept poorly executed. Skip this series. (Nonfiction. 9-13)