Children's · Historical Fiction · Teen Fiction · YA

The Royal Diaries

I was surfing the internet today and I came across a post about The Royal Diaries series by Scholastic, a series of fictional journals based on the lives of famous queens.  The queens – representing all parts of the world, though Europe is most heavily represented – are all represented in their formative years, generally 10 to 16 or 17.  I’ve read all but one of them – Weetamo: Heart of the Pocassets, a Native American princess from the time of the invasion of the Europeans. (I’m not sure how I missed it.)  These were some of my favorite books growing up and I was always excited to get my hands on a new one.  They also had the benefits of covering a lot of times and cultures that my world history classes didn’t. cough. anything non-European or -American. cough.

My personal favorites were Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tudor and Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile, closely followed by Lady of Ch’ia Kuo: Warrior of the SouthMarie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles, and Eleanor: Crown Jewel of Aquitaine. I guess my penchant for bad-ass female characters goes back a lot farther than I thought!

The books vary in writing, as there were a number of different authors writing them, but they’re all fairly well researched and a very engaging way to learn about important world events.  As it’s the holiday season, if you have a child who loves to read to shop for, especially a female child, you should definitely consider this series.  Bonus: it’s easy to find them used for very cheap!

The books included historical notes about the times they grew up in and actually, at least for the queens I knew more about, captured a fairly accurate view of the characters.  Elizabeth is calculating and wise beyond her years, Marie Antoinette is young and naive, and Cleopatra is intelligent and just learning to be seductive.  (I really connected with Elizabeth as a character, by the way. Her emotionally distant way of describing events is very similar to how I tend to communicate.)

Does anyone else out there remember this series? What was your favorite one? Did any of them open you up to a whole new culture? Let me know in the comments!


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