AT HER MAJESTY'S REQUEST

AN AFRICAN PRINCESS IN VICTORIAN ENGLAND

Working from a packet of letters found in a London bookshop, Myers reconstructs the life of one Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a child of royal African descent who was rescued by a British sea captain from a sacrificial rite in Dahomey, became a goddaughter of Queen Victoria, and grew up in a succession of upper middle-class households. A celebrity in her day, Sarah, or Sally, as she was also known, visited the Queen regularly, traveled repeatedly between England and Africa, grew up to marry a West African businessman, named her first born Victoria, and died of tuberculosis in 1880, aged about 37. Filling in gaps with well-chosen passages from newspapers, memoirs, and the Queen’s diary, plus occasional speculations—“Snow! What must she have thought of snow?”—Myers (Angel to Angel, p. 498, etc.) creates a credible, perceptive picture of her probable experiences, adding for flavor detailed accounts of her wedding, a royal wedding she attended, and a general glimpse of London street life. He suggests that, although she may have felt caught between two worlds, and fully comfortable in neither, she had a lively intelligence and a gracious, forgiving nature. A generous selection of contemporary prints and photographs includes both British and African scenes, as well as portraits of Sarah and both Victorias. This solidly researched biography will enthrall readers, and ranks among Myers’s best writing. (Biography. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-48669-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

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AFTER THE LAST DOG DIED

THE TRUE-LIFE, HAIR-RAISING ADVENTURES OF DOUGLAS MAWSON AND HIS 1911-1914 ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION

This liberally illustrated survival tale makes reading as compelling as any of the recent accounts of Ernest Shackleton’s contemporaneous ventures. Unlike Shackleton, Australian geologist Mawson mounted his ill-starred expedition for (mostly) scientific purposes. Having set up base camp at Cape Denison, soon discovered to be “the windiest place in the world,” Mawson departed with a small party on sledges in November 1912. He returned alone and on foot the following February, having lost nearly all supplies, and both human companions (one, Bredeson hints, to vitamin-A poisoning from a forced diet of sled-dog livers), but surviving a 320-mile trek back. Supplemented by expedition photos of dim, windswept landscapes, and laced with horrifying details—at one point Mawson takes off his socks, and his soles peel off with them—this lesser-known, tragic episode from the golden age of Antarctic exploration won’t fail to give readers both chills and thrills. (roster, time line, resource lists, index) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7922-6140-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

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THE CIVIL WAR AT SEA

In this companion to Portraits of War: Civil War Photographers and Their Work (1998), Sullivan presents an album of the prominent ships and men who fought on both sides, matched to an engrossing account of the war's progress: at sea, on the Mississippi, and along the South's well-defended coastline. In his view, the issue never was in doubt, for though the Confederacy fought back with innovative ironclads, sleek blockade runners, well-armed commerce raiders, and sturdy fortifications, from the earliest stages the North was able to seal off, and then take, one major southern port after another. The photos, many of which were made from fragile glass plates whose survival seems near-miraculous, are drawn from private as well as public collections, and some have never been published before. There aren't any action shots, since mid-19th-century photography required very long exposure times, but the author compensates with contemporary prints, plus crisp battle accounts, lucid strategic overviews, and descriptions of the technological developments that, by war's end, gave this country a world-class navy. He also profiles the careers of Matthew Brady and several less well-known photographers, adding another level of interest to a multi-stranded survey. (source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7613-1553-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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