If you have been following the blog for a while, you already know that I love history. Looking into the lives of people who lived hundreds of years ago fascinates me. What did they wear? What did they eat? What were their homes like? When I saw The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses, I wanted to read them. Desperately.
I started with Hatshepsut of Egypt, because she is one of my favorite historical figures. She had the guts to have herself declared Pharaoh! That is the coolest thing ever! She wasn’t content to be the Queen of Egypt, or to be the regent – she wanted to be Pharaoh, and through her wisdom and intelligence, she was able to realize her ambition. Hatshepsut ruled for 22 years, and she ushered in a period of wealth and exploration. You can still visit some of her monuments today, and that is one of the most intriguing aspects of history for me. Can you imagine walking through the remains of a temple that was built 1500 years ago?!
I was unfamiliar with the other princesses in the series, so I was looking forward to learning about them. I decided to read the series in timeline order, since Hatshepsut was the oldest of the women spotlighted in the books. Artemisia of Caria was next. She lived around 500BC. Artemisia is interesting because she commanded a war ship in a culture that didn’t give any rights to women, and more shocking, she spoke her mind to Xerxes, the Persian king known for his very bad temper. This lady had guts!
The Mongols are another culture that holds a lot of interest for me. Besides being nomadic and fierce, the Mongols’ lives revolved around their horse herds. Sorghaghtani of Mongolia was married at a young age to one of the sons of Genghis Khan, and she was the mother of Kublai Khan, the man who founded the Yuan Dynasty of China. The Mongols lived hard and fought hard, but Sorghaghtani taught all four of her sons the value of diplomacy. Through her teachings, they expanded their empire and increased their herds and their wealth.
Qutlugh Terkan Khatun of Kirman lived a rough life. Known for her beauty and compassion, she was often kidnapped or the pawn of princes. Rescued from a life of slavery by a merchant when she was a young girl, Qutlugh went on to marry into royalty, only to have her world fall apart several times. Through all of the challenges, she never lost her compassion, and when she finally found lasting happiness, she never forgot to be thankful and kind to her subjects.
All of the books in this series for children ages 9 – 13 are easy to read and packed with entertaining and interesting facts. I loved the page layouts, and the mix of illustrations and photographs. Each book starts with a pronunciation guide, a map of where each princess lived, and a timeline showing her place in history. Then, in easy to understand language, their lives are explored within the cultural context of their time. Other facts include what each woman would have worn, a typical diet, and where appropriate, a family tree.
These bright, bold books are sure to please young history buffs, as well as form a springboard for further reading into the lives of these powerful, intelligent, and influential women from the past. There aren’t enough history books out there, and I think books of this type are one of the most underrepresented segments on the market. That depresses me, because I love to read about how other people lived. Don’t you wonder what it would have been like to have lived 1500 years ago?
The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses series is written by Shirin Yim Bridges, illustrated by Albert Nguyen. The books are published by Goosebottom Books, and you can learn more about them by visiting the publisher website here. All of the titles in the series can be ordered from Amazon – just click the links below!
Review materials provided by publisher