cover image Ten Queens: Portraits of Women of Power

Ten Queens: Portraits of Women of Power

Milton Meltzer. Dutton Books, $24.99 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45643-8

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 natural--and enjoyable--classroom component. Ages 12-up. (May)