Mary, Queen of Scots: Queen Without a Country (The Royal Diaries) by Kathryn Lasky (Scholastic, 2002, 202pp.)
This fictional diary chronicles the adventures of twelve-year-old Mary Stuart (Queen of Scots) during her childhood in France living with her future husband and in-laws. Unfortunately, the events that made Mary an important figure in history happened much later in her life, leaving Lasky to scrounge around to fill the pages. The narrative is episodic and somewhat plodding, with Mary’s shrewish soon-to-be mother-in-law Catherine de Medici serving as the primary villain. Catherine’s villainies, which include exhibiting a bad temper and rifling through Mary’s personal papers for a reason not readily apparent to the rest of us, are appropriate for a children’s book, but don’t seem to really ever come to a head. That said, this makes Mary’s reaction, to act like a true queen and forgive Catherine for her scheming, a bit late in coming. However, it is especially interesting to note, the author’s pointed irony in having her heroine learn a very important lesson: that the best decisions come from time and contemplation, not impulse (historically, Mary Stuart’s greatest flaw was her impulsive nature). A flawed read with some redeeming qualities for young girls interested in the lives of princesses. Recommended for Ages 9-12.
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