Galen: My Life in Imperial Rome

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The life of a slave is the only life that twelve-year-old Galen knows, and though he hopes for a better one, he's making the best of it. He practices painting whenever he can, finds adventures with his best friend, Micio, and just might solve a mystery that will improve the life of everyone around him—and change the course of history.
Galen, from the acclaimed author of the Young American Voices series, is a riveting first-person account of a ...

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Overview

The life of a slave is the only life that twelve-year-old Galen knows, and though he hopes for a better one, he's making the best of it. He practices painting whenever he can, finds adventures with his best friend, Micio, and just might solve a mystery that will improve the life of everyone around him—and change the course of history.
Galen, from the acclaimed author of the Young American Voices series, is a riveting first-person account of a young boy's life in ancient Rome. The first book in the Ancient World Journal series.

Twelve-year-old Galen describes his life as a slave in Rome under the Emperor Augustus. Features hand-printed text, drawings, and marginal notes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ably balancing fact and fiction, Moss (the Amelia's Notebook and Young American Voices series) uses her signature notebook-style jottings and drawings to launch the Ancient World Journal series. The fresh, diverting first-person account of fictitious 12-year-old Galen, an aspiring artist, describes life as a slave in the palace of Emperor Augustus. As the tale opens, Galen is living with his artist father and brother as slaves of Pollio, a pompous equestrian who bought Galen's father to have him decorate his villa. A dramatic incident occurs while the emperor Augustus visits the villa on his way home to Rome: Pollio threatens to kill Galen's brother when the boy accidentally breaks a treasured wine cup. Augustus, outraged by Pollio's cruelty, buys the family and takes them to Rome with him. The chatty narrator recounts the goings-on in the busy household (which includes Augustus's cold wife, Livia, and his scheming, bullying grandson, Agrippa) while providing a clear, intriguing portrait of ancient Roman life, with such customs as gladiator fights, chariot races and celebrations of the Saturnalia and the feast of Liberalia. Moss's marginal notes in Galen's engaging voice plus his sketches offer insight about food, dress ("Togas are impossible to drape by yourself") and hairstyles. Moss caps this account with Galen's climactic discovery of a plot to poison Augustus so that Iullus Antonius can become emperor. Youngsters will be so drawn into the story that they might not realize how much history they're learning along the way. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Galen, a 12-year-old Greek slave living in Augustus Caesar's household, is working alongside his father, a famous artist, decorating Livia's new house. When he discovers a plot to assassinate the emperor and his stepson Tiberius, he saves Augustus's life and gains freedom for himself and his family. Other than Galen, his family, and two others, all of the characters are historically accurate, as are many of the events. In the course of the story, youngsters will learn about slavery in Roman society, the members of the emperor's immediate family, how and where people lived, the foods they ate, chariot racing, gladiators, and more. The text looks handwritten and there are many small drawings (Galen's practice sketches), most of which have captions. One caveat: the varying size of the font may confuse readers. Sometimes the smaller font indicates a caption, sometimes the main text.-Lynda S. Poling, Long Beach Public Library, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The author of the "Young American Voices" series takes readers considerably further into the past for a slave’s-eye view of life in Emperor Augustus’s household. Actually, young Galen’s life is not too bad; a well-educated son of a Greek muralist, he is fed and housed comfortably, never subjected to corporal punishment—though threatened with it by bullying nemesis Agrippa, Augustine’s grandson—and has such light duties that he’s even able to spend time with an outside friend, Micio. Despite one misguided attempt at dialect—Micio: "I’m with the Greens. They’re the best team, ya know. Wanna see the stable?"—Moss expertly folds real people and incidents, as well as carefully researched details about daily life, from food and dress to chariot racing, into a suspenseful tale in which Galen wins freedom by uncovering a (historical) plot to assassinate Augustus. As usual, Moss’s hand-lettered text is easy to read, and the small, simply drawn vignettes scattered between passages and down the margins add additional color to the lively narrative. She establishes her bona fides in a final note, and covers both sets of endpapers with maps, explanations, and supplementary information. For readers not yet up to Carol Lawrence’s Roman Mystery series, this makes an equally agreeable combination of story and history. (glossary) (Fiction. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152165352
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Series: Ancient World Journals
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.88 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

MARISSA MOSS is best known for her handwritten illustrated journals, including the enormously popular Amelia series. She lives in Berkeley, California.

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