Adele Geras, ill. M. P. Robertson



Oct 2007

The reunion of ‘The Spice Girls’ has brought back into common currency their maxim: ‘Girl Power’. Centuries prior to the historic plight of women’s rights being commodified to a snappy, two-word, slogan, Cleopatra was Queen of Egypt and ‘ with considerable diplomatic powers and prowess ‘ set about forging kinship between Egypt and Rome.
In bringing the story of Cleopatra to life through the eyes of Nefret, a young Egyptian girl who is conscripted to work for the royal household, Adele Geras paints a vivid portrait of this extraordinary, sparkling historical figure. The diary entries of Nefret provide a wealth of colour and detail about Ancient Egypt and ‘ through choosing a first-person narrative told by a girl, Geras easily conveys just what an astoundingly inspirational figurehead Cleopatra must have presented.
Cleopatra’s story links Ancient Egyptian history with that of Ancient Rome, both focal areas in the key-stage two, National Curriculum history syllabus. Production values of the book are incredibly high with M. P. Robertson’s lavish spreads that perfectly capture the movement, tone and time of the period being interspersed with photographic imagery of key historical artefacts. Notes are appended at the end about Alexandria, the Roman army, the river Nile and more, providing valuable factual context to this fictionalised account of Cleopatra’s life.
An accomplished synergy of wonderful writing, illustrative innovation and pride in publishing production values make this a venture that is not to be missed. Whether reading for pleasure or for purpose, this is a tome to be treasured. Look out for Steve Augarde’s ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ which Kingfisher have scheduled for publication in 2008.

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