Christian biographer Simonetta Carr explores the life of Cleopatra, one of the most fascinating and mysterious women in history. Ages 10-16
Cleopatra and Ancient Egypt for Kids: Her Life and World, with 21 Activities by Simonetta Carr. Chicago Review, 2018, 132 pages, including appendices.
Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12
Recommended for: ages 10-16
For a name instantly recognizable, Cleopatra the woman (as opposed to the legend) is shrouded in mystery. We don’t know exactly when she was born, or who her mother was, or how she thought, or what she believed. As the last ruler queen of an independent nation who–apparently–captivated two of the most powerful men of her time, she’s often held up as a feminist role model. But past ages, and writers of her own time, despised her as a scheming harlot. The author carefully steers between these poles, sorting fact from legend, to present an intelligent, attractive, savvy woman who leveraged power during one of the most pivotal transition times in history. She negotiated with Herod I (the Great) of Judea. She had a son with Julius Caesar and bargained with his nephew Octavian (later Augustus). She allied with Mark Anthony–the wrong man, as it turned out–and died about 33 years before a child named Yeshua was born in Bethlehem.
Some readers will bog down in the necessary political details of Cleopatra’s life, but they will also be fascinated by the time period. Egypt was “ancient” even then, the tombs of the Pharaohs being as much of a tourist attraction to Mark Anthony as they are to modern travelers. The “21 activities” typical of Chicago Review books introduce aspects of Egyptian culture that remained stable for thousands of years: mummification (mummify a hot dog!), cartouche nomenclature, stylized drawing, columns and obelisks. The appendices include footnotes, glossary, two timelines, and a list of further resources, including websites. A more comprehensive view of this legendary life would be hard to find, and kudos to the author for allowing readers to make up their own minds about this fascinating woman’s character.
Note: The reviewer received a complementary copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.
Cautions: Illustrations include artwork featuring bare breasts
Overall Rating: 4 (out of 5)
- Worldview/moral value: 3.5
- Artistic value: 4