Book Review: Elizabeth

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

Also in This Series

Eleanor of Aquitaine
Marco Polo
Marie Curie

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• Queen Elizabeth I

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One of the latest in the National Geographic series of biographies of famous people throughout history is Elizabeth I, by Simon Adams. It is a most impressive work, comprising the Virgin Queen's lifetime while also highlighting the various historical highlights of the world around her. Along the way, we learn significant details about what it was like growing up as a child in Tudor England, especially a royal child. These tidbits are perfectly placed diversions from the narrative and, in fact, serve to augment the telling of the story. (Among these tidbits is a drawing of a soccer game, with the inclusion of the fact that men and women played on the same teams!)

Yet for all Elizabeth's technically being a young woman growing up in Tudor England, she was in now way a typical young woman. The author makes this point in sufficient detail, pointing to the young princess's studies in languages, mathematics, and politics, along with attendance of the great feasts that happened regularly at the court of her father, the great Henry VIII.

The book also does an admirable job of placing Elizabeth's struggle in context of the religious and political struggles of the day. Elizabeth was uniquely situated to be influential in both arenas, and the challenges she faced were nealry insurmountable; yet through a combination of courage, determination, and luck, she survived and thrived, becoming one of England's most memorable monarchs.

The usual superior complement of illustrations are here, along with a very helpful timeline of general events, which unfolds page by page, accompanying the events in Elizabeth's life. Also welcome is a featurette on Elizabeth's legacy, both during the later years of her reign and after her death.

The reader of this book will come away with a much better understanding of the life, struggles, setbacks, and triumphs of England's first Queen Elizabeth.

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