Isabel: Jewel of Castilla, Spain 1466

Isabel: Jewel of Castilla, Spain 1466

4.4 44
by Carolyn Meyer
     
 

King Enrique of Spain sees his 14-year-old sister, Princess Isabel, as a pawn to be used to strengthen his rule over the kingdom. He tries to marry her off to any patron who would benefit his political cause. Luckily, Isabel manages to escape each unfavorable suitor, avert danger from warring forces in the land, and find the one man she actually wants to marry.See more details below

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Overview

King Enrique of Spain sees his 14-year-old sister, Princess Isabel, as a pawn to be used to strengthen his rule over the kingdom. He tries to marry her off to any patron who would benefit his political cause. Luckily, Isabel manages to escape each unfavorable suitor, avert danger from warring forces in the land, and find the one man she actually wants to marry.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA
Isabel, the fifteenthcentury Castillian princess best remembered for supporting Columbus's New World expeditions, is portrayed through the complex problems she faces. Her father has died, two brothers vie for the throne, a mysterious illness incapacitates her mother, various unwelcome marriage proposals are thrust upon her, the plague threatens, and warring nobles constantly rattle their swords. The rigid format of The Royal Diaries series does not enable adequate development of Isabel's story. She rarely seems more than a pawn with names, geographical sites, and political allies filling her diary entries. Although there is accuracy in the description of her life, it does not engage readers or help them warm to her. In no place is this shortcoming more evident than in the treatment of religion. Historical notes following the text acknowledge Queen Isabel's vehement antiSemitism that led to her establishment of the Inquisition that persecuted and tortured thousands; the author struggles to portray adequately this attitude within the text. Isabel's spiritual conflicts are usually given a very modern sensibilityIsabel's visions of penance and fasting are contrasted with her inability to follow her confessor's instructions seriously. Isabel seems to model a modern version of tolerance through her friendship with Catalina, a ladyinwaiting who happens to be a converso, a Christian of Jewish descent. The author attempts both to portray her protagonist honestly and to make her seem nicegoals that do not mesh well in this volume. A great deal more space is needed to render this subject fully and sensitively. Fans of the series might be able to overlook the limitations of the format, butnewreaders are unlikely to be attracted to this novel. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P M (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2000, Scholastic, Ages 12 to 14, 240p. PLB $10.95. Reviewer: Megan Isaac
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Another addition to the "Royal Diaries" series, this fictionalized biography takes on the youth of Queen Isabel of Castille. In the tradition defined by Karen Cushman's late-medieval heroines, we are offered chatty diary excerpts which though impossible to the period are effective in defining the young princess and her milieu. A large cast of characters and issues are introduced to the reader: the infamous Torquemada of the Spanish Inquisition; Isabel's feuding royal brothers, Enrique IV and Alfonso; and, of course, her many suitors, including Fernando of Aragon, her ultimate husband. The story and its extensive historical notes ultimately fill a gap for young readers. They are likely to come away with a better understanding of the famous Isabel and Ferdinand who not only sent Columbus on his voyages of discovery, but also expelled both the Jews and the Moors from Spain. 2000, Scholastic, Ages 8 to 14, $10.95. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
VOYA - Voya Reviews
Isabel, a fifteenth-century Castillian princess best remembered for her support of Columbus's New World expeditions, seems like a fine subject for the Royal Diaries series. Meyer succeeds in illustrating the complex problems faced by Isabel: her father has died, her brothers vie for the throne, illness incapacitates her mother, unwelcome marriage proposals are repeatedly thrust upon her, the plague threatens, and warring nobles rattle their sabers constantly. The rigid format of this "diary," however, does not enable Isabel's story adequate room for development. Names, geographical sites, and political alliances fill the short entries. Isabel rarely seems more than a pawn shuffled from one place and one person to the next. Although there might be a great deal of accuracy in this description of Isabel's life, it does not engage readers or help them warm to her plight. These problems are most evident in the novel's treatment of religion. Meyer's historical notes following the text acknowledge Queen Isabel's vehement anti-Semitism; the author, however, also struggles to make Isabel and her spiritual conflicts appealing within the novel. She seems to desire both to represent her protagonist honestly and to make her nice. These goals do not always mesh well in this book. At the very least, Meyer needs more space than the format of this series provides to render fully and sensitively her subject. Fans of these "diaries" might be willing to overlook these limitations, but new readers are unlikely to be attracted by this volume. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P M (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined asgrades 6 to 8). 2000, Scholastic, Ages 12 to 14, 240p. PLB $10.95. Reviewer: Megan Isaac
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-A flawed, fictionalized diary of teenaged Princess Isabel of Castilla (better known to Americans as Isabella, the queen who sponsored Columbus) that ends just before her marriage to Fernando II in 1469. It is a story of intrigue, as Isabel strives to remain on good terms with both her controlling half-brother, King Enrique, and her younger sibling, the rebel King Alfonso. It is also a tale of romance, as unwelcome matches for the princess are made and broken until she finally weds the man of her choice. Much detail is given of life in the mid-15th century. Appended historical notes include reproductions, a tiny and incomplete map of the Spanish states, and a condensed annotated family tree. A Spanish pronunciation guide and a list of characters (helpfully indicating which are fictitious) are also provided. Unfortunately, there are numerous errors in dating events and the tedious text is often just a recitation of activities. There is little insight into Isabel's personality; the few feelings that are expressed make her sound whiny and complaining, a totally inaccurate portrait. There is no depth to this storybook creation.-Ann W. Moore, Schenectady County Public Library, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780439078054
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
06/28/2000
Series:
Royal Diaries Series
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.44(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.75(d)
Lexile:
860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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