cover image Cleopatra


Diane Stanley, Peter Vennema. HarperCollins, $17.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10413-9

The dazzling Egyptian queen proves a fertile subject for Stanley and Vennema, who have produced notable biographies of Queen Elizabeth, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and others. Here they make a seemingly effortless leap into ancient times, masterfully relating Cleopatra's life story through words and pictures. A succinct preface places the tale in historical context, noting that much of what is known about Cleopatra is based on legend or gossip--and that most accounts of her life were penned by her enemies. Stanley includes occasional quotes from the writings of Plutarch as she ably distills complex political machinations as well as the particulars of Cleopatra's often enigmatic private life, including her banishment from Alexandria and her fateful love for first Julius Caesar and then Mark Antony. Vennema's stunning gouache paintings spotlight the artist's trademark, period detail--attention is lavished upon simulating mosaics, for example, which serve as background for the text blocks. This peerless author/artist team makes the captivating, ultimately tragic Cleopatra seem astoundingly real. Ages 7-up. (Sept.)