Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cleopatra Rules by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Readers will find a unique portrait in Vicky Alvear Shecter's portrayal of Cleopatra, aptly subtitled "the Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen." Shecter's use of language is quick, pithy and punny. When describing the Queen in Rome with Caesar's rather predatory 'followers', she notes that "Cleopatra probably felt like a bull’s-eye target in a room full of twitchy archers." Cleopatra did accomplish a stunning amount for a woman of her time -- much more than her relationships with Caesar and Antony. Shecter uses modern comparisons and lets students know that most of what has been accepted (or at least presented in plays, books and films) about the last queen of Egypt has either been highly subjective or presented in from a terribly one-sided point of view. Readers will find sidebars on the various ways she has been portrayed (as opposed to what we actually know about her), as well as egyptian makeup and jewelry, among other things.
Presenting a fun and balanced accounting of an interesting subject, in a book that gives readers primary and secondary sources (along with endnotes, a glossary, and lots of illustrations) is one sure way to interest readers in history.

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