Sondok: Princess of the Moon and Stars

Overview

THE ROYAL DIARIES is pleased to introduce historical novelist, Sheri Holman, who makes her debut on the list with a captivating story of fourteen-year-old Princess Sondok from seventh-century Korea.

During the seventh-century, the land which is now Korea was fraught with political and religious intrigue. The country was split into Three Kingdoms, each fighting for supremacy: Silla, Koguryo, and Paekche. Besides the warring kingdoms, there are three religions in conflict: ...

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Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. 2002 Hard Cover New 5 1/2 x 8. The Royal Diaries series. New with minor shelfwear. The fictional account, in diary form, of a young princess in ... Korea, A.D. 595. Gilt-edged edition. Read more Show Less

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Overview

THE ROYAL DIARIES is pleased to introduce historical novelist, Sheri Holman, who makes her debut on the list with a captivating story of fourteen-year-old Princess Sondok from seventh-century Korea.

During the seventh-century, the land which is now Korea was fraught with political and religious intrigue. The country was split into Three Kingdoms, each fighting for supremacy: Silla, Koguryo, and Paekche. Besides the warring kingdoms, there are three religions in conflict: Shamanism, the ancient female-dominated faith wherein Shamanist priestesses wield great power at court, foretelling the future, performing important national rituals, and healing sickness; Buddhism, the contemplative State religion; and Confucianism, a recent import from powerful China.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In the late seventh century, the land that we now call Korea was embroiled with political and religious conflicts. Three kingdoms (Silla, Koguryo, and Paekche) fought for supremacy, and three faiths (Shamanism, Buddhism, and Confucianism) battled for dominance. Princess Sondok, the eldest daughter of King Chinp-yong of Silla, must contemplate problems that few other 14-year-olds ever to think of. Another expertly crafted addition to the Royal Diaries series.
Children's Literature
The year is 595 A.D. and Sondok is about to become the first woman to head the Korean kingdom of Silla. Like the others in the "Royal Diaries" series, which includes Elizabeth I, Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette and Anastasia, Sondok was a real royal person. There is an extensive section at the back of the book with a family tree, an explanation of Confucianism and Buddhism as well as photographs of ancient jewelry and even the observatory whose origins figure prominently in the story. Sondok is writing her diary as a young girl, her parents' only child, who is more interested in astronomy and boys (one particular boy) than traditional female activities of the time. One of those activities involves tending the silk worms, and even though Sondok hates the work, she describes in great and often fascinating detail the cultivation of silk worms and the weaving of silk. Historical fiction by definition takes liberties with history, but Sondok is probably unrealistically portrayed as more of a young feminist than her time would have permitted. The challenge of historical fiction is also to weave facts into a good story, but too often in this case, the facts and details are recited almost textbook-style. The diary is being written to Sondok's grandmother, who certainly would have known all this information. The book becomes much stronger toward the end where some suspense and emotion are generated. The message that does come through loud and clear, however, is the importance of tradition and the way daily activities were imbued with religious significance and ceremony in these ancient societies. 2002, Scholastic, $10.95. Ages 10 to 15. Reviewer: Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Set in ancient Silla, part of modern-day South Korea, this diary follows the life of Princess Sondok. Although little is known about the subject's childhood, Holman has written a discerning novel to reflect what life may have been like for the princess who became the first ruling Queen of Silla in A.D. 632. When the book opens, the protagonist has just become guardian of the ancestor jar. She writes notes to her dead grandmother, describing activities in the royal court or asking advice. These are the diary entries. What is known about Queen Sondok's reign is that Buddhism flourished, and that she built the oldest standing astronomical observatory in Asia. Thus, Holman has created an intelligent, spiritual princess with a passion for astronomy. The powerful influence of China and Confucianism in Silla is revealed through the fictitious character of Lin Fang, a Chinese Ambassador who becomes Sondok's teacher. She feels torn between the ancient, feminine practice of shamanism, the contemporary ideas of Buddhism, and the infiltrating authority of Confucianism in her country but she learns to take what is useful from each practice to find a balance for herself and the country she will soon reign. A well-written story that will inspire young readers to learn more about other wise women from Asia.-Be Astengo, Alachua County Library, Gainesville, FL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439165860
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Series: Royal Diaries Series
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 950L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 7.74 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Sheri Holman
Sheri Holman
"I feel incredibly fortunate that I can make my living reading a bunch of obscure books and turning them into stories," novelist Sheri Holman reveals in our exclusive interview. Best known for The Dress Lodger -- her Dickensian look at plague-ridden England through the experiences of a prostitute -- Holman continues to probe the past for inspiration with her latest work, The Mammoth Cheese.

Good To Know

In our interview with Holman, she shared some fun and fascinating facts about herself:

"Before publishing my first book, I spent five years working for the literary agent Molly Friedrich (she represents Jane Smiley, Terry McMillan, Frank McCourt, and Sue Grafton, among others). I started as her assistant and now she's my agent!"

"I know how to say, ‘I'm a hot chick, kiss me,' in Russian. "

"My husband and I have way too many pets: four indoor cats, four outdoor cats, a parrot, a baby, and now twins on the way. I think of myself as a country girl, though I've lived 15 years in New York City. I love to cook and I watch way too much baseball on TV (the Yankees, of course). I feel incredibly fortunate that I can make my living reading a bunch of obscure books and turning them into stories. "

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    1. Hometown:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 1, 1966
    2. Place of Birth:
      Richmond, Virginia
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Theatre from the College of William and Mary, 1988

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2003

    My opinion on Sondok

    I have been a huge fan of the Royal Diaries and Dear Americas for as long as I can remember. I have slowly bought them all. I bought Sondok about a year ago and at first enjoyed it. Then my Christian faith deepened and realized how people like "Sondok" and "the Lady" and "Jahanara" are so blind to the truth of God's perfect love. I know the authors (excellent ones, I might add) must do this because that is how the character was, but if I would have known about all the Paganism in these titles I do not think I would have bought them. All you readers who are Christians, take heed- Sondok is an excellent book to read if your are teaching a class on Eastern religions. Please do not think me rude for saying these things, but I feel you must know it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Fun and Entertaining Story

    Sheri Holman's entry in The Royal Diary series is an endearing and highly-readable book grounded firmly in the Silla period of ancient Korea. Like all good historical fiction, Holman uses the setting to tell a compelling story. But the historical milieu is not a mere backdrop. There is a genuine sense of Korean culture and history here, showing the author has done considerable homework. Holman's 22-page Historical Note at the back of the book contains a glossary, information on the history, religion and philosophy of the period, Sondok's family tree and eight pages of relevant photos.

    Above all, this is a fun and entertaining story. Holman's prose is informed with a gentle lyricism that is deceptively simple--only after finishing the novel does the reader see how deftly Holman has crafted her characters. A delightful read.

    D. Bannon was the subtitler for the MBC America broadcast and DVD releases of The Great Queen Seondeok Vol. 1, The Great Queen Seondeok, Vol. 2 and The Great Queen Seondeok Vol. 3. He discusses subtitling Queen Seondeok in The Elements of Subtitles: A Practical Guide to the Art of Dialogue, Character, Context, Tone and Style in Subtitling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2006

    Great Book!

    I really like this book. It was nice to hear about her and her life and things like that. Some parts it was rather boring and seemed to drag on a bit. I also hated the fact the it wasn't written for her, but to her Grandmother... It annoyed me. But overall a great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2005

    I love this book! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

    This is my favorite Royal Diary book so far! It is a wonderful story of change, having to let go, and many other things that we all go through. Sondok is portrayed so powerfuly by Sheri Holman you feel as if you're experiencing what Sondok went through also. It's a great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2005

    A Great Story To Read!!!!

    I think this is a wonderful story about how a girl can break out of tradision and become the first woman ruler! This story shows how Sondok can strive to be the ruler she was born to be, eventhoe people dout her.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2004

    Great Book!!!!!

    This book was very good and I enjoyed it very much! I read it in a matter of a hour! I did skip a couple of pages though because they were boring to me. Other than some boring parts this book was very good and you should buy it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2004

    Outstanding work!

    This book was amazing! Sondok sounds exactly like my best friend who moved here from South Korea! She is so clever and extrordinary. I would love to visit South Korea some day!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2004

    Heroian or WImp?

    This book is one of the newer ones, and personally I felt it to be poorly written and a bit odd. What I mean by poorly written is that the plot, theme, and charcters weren't developed well. The theme is stated much throughout the book and the plot never seems to stay consistent. The author meatn to potray SOndok was an independent thinker who breaks the rules of what women are suppose to do and how they are suppose to be. Personally I found Sondok to be a wimp under pressure and that she was always afraid of breaking the rules because of the consquences. I agree with reviewer from July 28, 2003. ANother point I'd like to make is the repition. The author would write about different settings with different charcters, but deep down the plot of this new scene was the same as the last. I would not recomand this book at all only if someone REALLY wants to read the whole series whatever the book may be like.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2003

    This book was awesome!

    It had good description and SOndok was a fascinating queen. I highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2003

    IDIDN'T UNDERSTAND IT ALL AND IT WAS VERY BORING

    I didn't even read the whole book it was so boring. I didn't even understand what was happening and how it all connected. She didn't even have a real Diary. If you want to read this book don't. It is one of the worst books ever in the whole world. Read the rest because kit Donata, who wrote a review for Cleopatra, says that they won't be making anymore of these books after 2004.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2003

    Not the greatest.

    I think the book was fine for it's limits in excitment. There were so many times that I just wish she would stand up to the people a round her.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2003

    Life as a Korean Princess in 595 AD

    Immagine you are a Princess in Korea in the year 595AD. You are the heir to the throne but your father is under the influence of a Chinese astronomer who convinces him to divorce your mother and marry a younger wife.Your passion is astronomy but you are forbidden to do so just because you are a girl.When an eclips of the sun does not happen on the day the astonomer predicted you are back in your fathers favor and allowed to study your passion again. Over all this book was OK.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2003

    Astronomical

    I just have to say that this book was awesome, a wonderful contribution to the series. The story of the princess Sondok-who is commanded to stop her male-like hobbies of studying the constellations and the celestial beings and is criticized for her dignity and her stamina, especially by those unfamiliar with the Korean system like Ling Fen. Sondok also shows a deep interest in the budding Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucian beliefs and the mystical and strange shamans-who are very interesting to read about. But Sondok also must deal with things such as the near-execution of the 14 year old boy she is growing to like-Chajang-and the 'banishment' of her mother to a convent so that her father may marry a much younger woman to produce a male heir. However, Sondok does become a wonderful queen of Silla, the Korean kingdom her father, King Chinpyong, rules in the book. I recommend this book to everyone. And a comment to that review by Pamela: not one of the princesses in the Royal Diaries Series is a pagan and if you were so God loving than you would learn to respect other cultures. Sondok is a Buddhist, Jahanara is a Muslim, Nzingha believed in one god, and Lady of Ch'iao Kuo was a Confucian. The only one who could be considered a pagan is Cleopatra. Respect cultures and get your facts straight Pamela.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2003

    Princess of the Moons and Stars!

    Excellent book! Cool, fun and easy to read! 5 STARS!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2002

    Princess of Stars!

    This book was pretty good, not great, but good. It is really too sort to explain much, other than the Princess's interest for stars. I mean look at the Lady (another Royal Diary), nobody has heard of her, and Sondok is recorded in history more often than her, yet Sondok's diary is smaller. By the way, those 'mundang' women are scary!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2002

    I liked it!

    I'm not going to go on, but this was a good book and I recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2002

    Wow

    It is a great book and has lots of details i highly recommend it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2002

    Most interesting Royal Diary!

    This I believe is the most interesting Royal diary as far as research and introducing kids to a world of real people who a lot of people had ever heard of. This tells the story of the young and headstrong, sondok, the 14 year old princess of Silla, a kingdom that was in North Korea. her father's, King Chinp-yong, kingdom is constsantly at war with the other two Korean kingdoms, all headed by different religions ( Shamanism, Confucianism, and Buddhism). This is a lot like Lady of Ch'iao Kuo because it shows an Asian princess in an ethnic torn country who comes to her family's aid and helps them through the war. Later in her life, Sondok, like Ch'iao Kuo, also became a queen and built the first observatory in the world, for her love and dedication to astronomy. I think this is one of the best Royal Diaries, next to Marie Antoinette and Kaiulani.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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