________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 36. . . .May 21, 2010


To Kill a Queen: An Elizabethan Girl’s Diary, 1583-1586. (My Story).

Valerie Wilding.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2000.
180 pp., pbk., $7.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-0243-8.

Subject Heading:
Great Britain-History-Elizabeth, 1558-1603-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Laura Dunford.

***½ /4



The noose was placed over Throckmorton’s head and –– he was dropped. He lashed out with his feet, kicking the air, and the crowd was silent. While he stilled, he was cut down, either unconscious or dead. Only those close by could see what happened next. They let out a great “Aaah!” and Edmund said that was the disembowelling. Ugh.

Catherine Anne Lumsden, called Kitty by her family and friends, lives in London, England, during the late sixteenth century. Extremely clever and filled with an adventurous spirit, 12-year-old Kitty is quick to catch on to her family’s role in protecting Queen Elizabeth from plots against her life, and she tells readers all about it in her diary. However, she finds herself empathizing with the enemy, Queen Mary, who is isolated from her friends and moved from place to place at Elizabeth’s whim. Kitty also finds herself conflicted when she makes friends with the enemy, Sir Anthony, who rescues her dog from drowning and is later arrested and executed for his part in a conspiracy to assassinate Queen Elizabeth. Caught between two sides, Kitty’s character is able to present the reader with a balanced perspective on the conflict between Mary and Elizabeth.

    Weaved into this first person narration of political conspiracies and bloodthirsty justice is also a story of childhood friendships and family loyalty. Kitty is a very likeable protagonist with an authentic voice, and her descriptions of outings with her cousin, Edmund, give the reader insight into the mix of innocence and macabre curiosity of children of the Elizabethan era. Though the book contains several disturbing scenes of violence, including an execution and a bearbaiting event, Kitty is able to restore the light atmosphere with her enduring sense of humour. Her interactions with other children, specifically Edmund’s sister, Kathryn, are extremely entertaining and sure to keep younger readers engaged. With the help of Kitty and her cloak and dagger family, To Kill a Queen manages to be both educational and entertaining. This is a great addition to the “My Story” series.

Highly Recommended.

Laura Dunford is a graduate of the Master of Arts in Children's Literature program at the University of British Columbia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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