cover image The Yeoman's Daring Daughter and the Princes in the Tower

The Yeoman's Daring Daughter and the Princes in the Tower

Elaine Clayton. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-517-70984-9

Clayton plays a ""what if"" game with English history, improvising on the unsolved mystery of the two young princes that Richard III--then Duke of Gloucester, their uncle and protector--locked up in the Tower of London in 1483, and who were never seen again. Jane, the daughter of one of the guards to the royal fortress, strikes up a surreptitious correspondence with the boys. The epistolary conceit works well, hinting at daily activity in the Tower as well as palace intrigue. The exchange of letters builds to a crescendo as Jane discovers Richard's ""very wicked plan"" (she overhears him plotting with a cohort, knife in hand--an oblique nod to the long-held assumption that the boys were murdered) and contrives to help her young pen-pals escape. Clayton's workmanlike paintings, with deep scarlets, purples and blues, offer little insight into the characters of the trio, but effectively foreshadow dark things to come, as when Richard stands behind his two still-unsuspecting nephews, his shadow looming on the wall with the fingers of his extended hand elongated into a claw. Endpapers include a brief genealogy of the House of York, as well as a map of 15th-century London. A lively introduction to one of England's most enduring mysteries. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)