>> Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Scholastic Canada Ltd.
Ages 9 to 12
5 “x 7 ¾”
The Tower of London. A palace; fortress; prison. In February 1554, Lady Jane Grey, queen for just nine days is sentenced to a traitor’s death at the age of sixteen. Many say she doesn’t deserve to die, but there will be no mercy for her. Young Tilly Middleton, who also lives in the castle, records her thoughts and fears in her diary. And then she waits for her chance to deliver a very important letter — a letter that could change the course of history and the fate of Lady Jane Grey.
I have mixed feelings about this book. Written in diary entries and spanning a period of 5 years, we see—through the eyes of a girl named Tilly—the medieval world during Queen Mary Tudor’s rule in the 1550’s. Tilly is a physician’s daughter who lives with her family in the Tower of London. I enjoyed reading her personal thoughts about her family life, her friends, the Royal family, and her views on the political and religious conflicts taking place during her youth. She’s a teenager with some of the same issues today’s teen faces albeit a 460-year difference.
From a historical point of view, a young reader will learn what it was like to live in that era, however since it was a violent and bloody time period, it could be disturbing to learn of all the beheadings, butchering and burnings that took place because of a cruel Queen who did not tolerate Protestants.
Tilly actually describes going to several beheadings and her nonchalant attitude well depicts how the people of that time felt—these events were actual highlights in their lives. Families watched these spectacles with their young children! Would I want my daughter to read this? No, especially since she is a sensitive child by nature. It’s one thing learning about these barbaric events through a history book but another reading it for pleasure in a story. Moreover, the suspense about the important letter that Tilly is to deliver leads to an anticlimactic ending, which I found disappointing.
Disclosure: Thanks to Nikole from Scholastic Canada for sending this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.