Ten Queens: Portraits of Women of Power

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From the courage and beauty of Esther (5th century B.C.) to the fierce battle tactics of Boudicca (A.D. c. 62) to the reforming spirit of Catherine the Great (1729-1796), here are ten essays about the personal and political natures of ten queens by an author who has been called "arguably the best writer of social history for children and adolescents ever." Most of these queens were, by today's standards, astonishingly young. Some were schooled to rule, others not. But all were ambitious, passionate, and ...

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Overview

From the courage and beauty of Esther (5th century B.C.) to the fierce battle tactics of Boudicca (A.D. c. 62) to the reforming spirit of Catherine the Great (1729-1796), here are ten essays about the personal and political natures of ten queens by an author who has been called "arguably the best writer of social history for children and adolescents ever." Most of these queens were, by today's standards, astonishingly young. Some were schooled to rule, others not. But all were ambitious, passionate, and determined to hold power. And all, in their successes and failures, ideals and compromises, assumptions and privileges, present interesting contrasts with the lives of modern women. Ten Queens was celebrated as a Booklist Editors' Choice, a Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, an International Reading Association's Teachers' Choice, and a Bank Street College Best Book, among many other citations.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In an enticing mix of history and biography, Meltzer (American Revolutionaries) reveals many events and personal characteristics that contributed to 10 women rulers' rise to power. Covering a 2000-year time span, the book's subjects unfold chronologically and include well-known queens such as Cleopatra and Elizabeth I, as well as the lesser-known Boudicca (who led a revolt against the Romans circa A.D. 60) and Zenobia (who sought to establish her own united kingdom of the East in A.D. 269). Deftly placing each queen in historical context, Meltzer conveys the complexity of power and those who seek it. And, while maintaining a brisk pace, the text nevertheless raises political and ethical questions. Andersen's (Seven Brave Women) painterly scenes of the Tower of London, Notre Dame and Russia's Hermitage Palace, among others, will delight art-loving adults, but her portraiture is the real standout. From Boudicca's fiery hair to Eleanor of Aquitane's self-possession, from Christina of Sweden's hauty profile to Maria Theresa's gentle visage, these sensitively drawn portraits indicate both the humanity of these women and their extraordinary determination. Andersen's dramatic pictures, interspersed with maps and supplemental material set off in tinted boxes, highlight the risks these women faced to solidify their power and defeat their enemies. A preface, source notes, bibliograpy and index make the volume a naturaland enjoyableclassroom component. Ages 12-up. (May)
Publishers Weekly
In what PW called "an enticing mix of history and biography," this handsomely designed and illustrated volume covers a 2,000-year time span, revealing many events and personal characteristics that contribute to 10 women rulers' rise to power. He includes Cleopatra and Elizabeth I, as well as the lesser-known Boudicca (who led a revolt against the Romans circa A.D. 60). Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
Women who played significant roles in history have always been fascinating to study. Meltzer chooses 10 women in power; from the 5th century B.C. to 1796 A.D.; and tells their stories, including contributions and also failures. Portrayed here in essays about their personal and professional lives are Esther, Cleopatra, Boudicca, Zenobia, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isobel of Spain, Elizabeth I, Christina of Sweden, Maria Theresa, and Catherine the Great. The women come alive in the context of their times, and the colorful illustrations by Bethanne Anderson add to the allure. YAs will learn a lot about history from the stories of these women and the countries they ruled. KLIATT Codes: JS; Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1998, Penguin Putnam, Dutton, 134p. illus. bibliog. index.,
— Barbara McKee
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
Ten Queens is beautiful to look at and a pleasure to read: Full-page portraits attract, the smaller illustrations tastefully embellish, and the conversational prose engrosses. Mr. Meltzer draws readers effortlessly into intriguing portraits of ten women whose power made them legendary. Esther, E1eanor of Aquitaine, and Elizabeth I are among them. In a note on sources, Mr. Meltzer explains why reconstructing someone's life is at best speculation. We'd be wise students and teachers to keep that in mind whenever we read biographies.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
This is an impressive group beginning with Queen Esther, Cleopatra, Boudicca, Zenobia, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabel of Spain, Elizabeth I, Christina of Sweden, Maria Theresa of Austria and Catherine the Great. The reader discovers a fascinating amalgam of women who were bold, tenacious, compassionate, intelligent and courageous. They were schemers and dreamers with extraordinary abilities. These profiles provide as accurate a picture of these historic periods as is possible and pique interest in further reading. Meltzer is a historian whose books of history, biography and social reform have won many awards.
VOYA - Kevin S. Beach
Master storyteller and acclaimed historian Meltzer takes readers on a fascinating political journey through the lives of ten queens, complete with the minutiae of daily routine as well as chronological and historical facts. Beautiful paintings illustrate this volume, which could easily become a booktalk favorite or a browsing reference source. Readers will grasp the different time periods along with historical significance as these women of history and legend assume their positions with acumen, strength, and fortune during their reigns. Each chapter clearly presents its ruler in biographical profile with emphasis on how her personal traits developed a leadership style.

Boudicca fought as a warrior queen for her people, the Iceni, a tribe descending from the Celts. Another warrior, Zenobia of Palmyra, declared independence from Rome and ruled from 270-275 A.D. Physical appearances are described as if actual photographs were available. The biblical Esther is assessed in a journalistic narrative that even allows this legendary character a historical place, the lack of documentary evidence duly noted. Chapters on Isabel of Spain, Catherine the Great, Elizabeth I, and Eleanor of Aquitaine are developed in consultation with extensive historical materials. Meltzer writes about these leaders with a blend of hearsay and fact to provide a careful analysis. An author's note outlines the difficulties encountered in studying legendary figures; Meltzer's research is impressive. Maps add a visual touch and the bibliography and index are first rate. This volume, which would make an excellent choice for a gift book, will enchant history buffs and entice the novice history student. Index. Illus. Maps. Biblio. Source Notes.

VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being better written, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12). i

Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
There are women who found power simply by marrying into royalty. And there are those who ruled in their own right, and thereby changed the course of history. This book is about the latter group. With the arguable exception of Cleopatra and Esther, these are all European queens. Their stories, while not quite representing "world history," are nonetheless the stuff of legend. And Meltzer narrates them with flair and an eye for compelling detail. Andersen's paintings are powerful, representing the strength of these women in image as the essays do in words. Index, source note, and bibliography included.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10Queens, when they are ruling monarchs, are second choices. They come to power because of the death or absence of kings, and must prove themselves capable of political leadership. A few of the 10 chosen by Meltzer ruled with independence and skill, notably Cleopatra, Elizabeth I, and Catherine the Great. Boudicca of Britain and Zenobia of Palmyra were warrior queens. Others, like the biblical Esther, lived in times of crisis and made choices that changed history. Eleanor of Aquitaine was a matriarch as well as a monarch, and Christina of Sweden was neither, refusing to marry and abdicating power to live grandly. Of necessity, much of the description deals with men, the kings who came before and after, the advisers, the generals, the plotters, and supporters who peopled their realms. While occasional comments suggest the conflicts that these women must have faced because of their sex, Meltzer writes traditional political history. He has a storyteller's flair and an eye for the small details and anecdotes that bring these queens to life. An added note explains the difficulties researchers face in sifting legend from fact and in weighing historical evidence. Colorful expressionistic paintings, boldly stroked onto unframed panels, enrich the pages. Decorative touches of flowers and jewels on the vibrant portraits celebrate the women's wealth and femininity. While the sources of the quotations that are woven into the accounts are not identified, there is a bibliography of standard histories consulted. Maps and an index add to the usefulness of the book for reports, and the well-spaced lines of text make the pages inviting to read. This book will grace the history shelves and provide pleasure to its readers.Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Meltzer (Weapons and Warfare, 1996, etc.) pulls together what is known and what might be inferred about ten women who held power and used it. He doesn't shirk from the apochryphal origins of Queen Esther, Catherine the Great's probable promiscuity, or Eleanor of Aquitaine's desire for control. Instead, he delineates well and clearly what these women accomplished, and how they changed the course of history for good and ill. He makes Boudicca and Elizabeth of England vividly real, and does a fine job of placing Isabella of Spain at a complicated historical nexus: She brought the horrors of the Inquisition to Spain and drove out the Moors, but united her country and funded Columbus. Meltzer also illuminates some lesser-known queens, such as Zenobia of Syria and Christina of Sweden. Anderson's dramatic paintings serve the text well; neither she nor the author condescend to their readers by prettifying or simplifying the real, sometimes ruthless power these rulers wielded. Already a great read, this is destined to be a favorite resource. (maps, notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525456438
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/1998
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 1200L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.46 (w) x 11.26 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Milton Meltzer has written over ninety books for young people and has received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for a lasting contribution to literature for children.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Esther 3
Cleopatra 11
Boudicca 25
Lenobia 33
Eleanor of Aquitaine 43
Isabel of Spain 59
Elizabeth I 73
Christina of Sweden 85
Maria Theresa 97
Catherine the Great 109
A Note on Sources 125
Bibliography 127
Index 131
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