Isabella of Castile and Sorgaghtani of Mongolia by Shirim Yim Bridges, Albert Nguyen (The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses)
Publisher: Goosebottom Books
ISBN (Sorghaghtani of Mongolia) - 0984509828 (ISBN13: 9780984509829)
ISBN (Isabella of Castile) - 0984509844 (ISBN13: 9780984509843)
On the wind-swept steppes of Mongolia in the 13th century, a princess was given the chance to rule. She took lands that had been ruined by war and made them wealthy again, brought mutual respect and cooperation to a down-trodden and distrustful people, and in a battle of wits that was like a giant chess game, won for her sons the imperial throne. Her name was Sorghaghtani.
Richly illustrated and narrated with touches of irreverent humor, this book brings to life the story of a real and remarkable princess who handed her sons the largest empire in the world.
In a twist on the classic fairy tale, a princess in 15th century Spain refused to wait to be rescued by a prince but instead chose one for herself. Even then, she would not marry him until they'd reached an agreement that was revolutionary for her time. The partnership she made was a happy and successful one. Her name was Isabella, and without her, both Spain and America would not exist as we know them.
Richly illustrated and narrated with touches of irreverent humor, this book brings to life the story of a real and remarkable princess who insisted on the equal partnership captured in the motto: To stand as high, as high to stand, Isabella and Ferdinand.
My Take: These are wonderful middle-readers (ages 9-13) for the real princesses in your life. Wonderfully illustrated, including photos of related items as well as real portraits of each princess and her prince. There are special pages that illustrate even more interesting facts - "What She Ate", "What She Wore", "Where She Lived" - these add so much because they put the period of each princess' life into more context.
The front of each book is a sort of glossary, explaining some of the unfamiliar words and how to pronounce them.
As I read about Isabella, I wondered if her part in the Spanish Inquisition would be glossed over (it wasn't; the last page of the book tells of her role in that horrible period and lets you know that not all princesses are all good all of the time).
I'd never heard of Sorghaghtani, who at age 11 married Genghis Khan's son Tolui (who was 10 at the time), so you don't have to be a youngster to learn something.
Although the books don't have a lot of pages (one has 24), there is so much of interest bundled into each page that they are well worth having.
These are part of a series of books titled "The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses", which also includes: Hatshepsut of Egypt, Artemisia of Caria, Qutlugh Terkan Khatun of Kirman, and Nur Jahan of India.
All of these books introduce princesses who were able to wield considerable influence, even when women weren't "supposed" to have any power or authority.
If you have a middle-reader, these are definitely books to have on hand. I really really recommend them.
If it weren't for Isabella, Spain would not be the country it is today, and America would not exist as we know it!
Just like any nomadic group, when it came time to find better pasture for their animals, the whole court packed up and moved. Sorghaghtani's household alone needed more than 100 carts to move all their gers and possessions - the gers perched fully assembled on top of the carts, the Mongolian version of mobile homes.
BOOK RATING: 5 out of 5 stars
About the authors: Shirin Yim Bridges first picture book, Ruby's Wish, was named one of the Best Children's Books of 2002 by Publishers Weekly, and won the Ezra Jack Keats award for 2003. It is on several state reading lists and has been translated into six languages. The Umbrella Queen, Shirin's second book, was named one of the Best Children's Books of 2009 by TIME/CNN and the Bank Street College of Education. Both books are about girls who manage to do what few think possible. Now, The Thinking Girls Treasury of Real Princesses brings Shirin's lyrical storytelling to some of the most inspiring tales in history about girls who really did manage to do what few thought possible.
Albert Nguyen grew up in Minnesota before moving to San Francisco. He received his MFA from the Academy of Art in 2006. In addition to being fond of drawing, painting, comics, and cartoons, Albert has a special affection for chubby animals. This is his first children's book.
BUY THEM: At Amazon, through the publisher's website, and at other on and off-line booksellers.
Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary galleys of these titles to facilitate my review. No other compensation was received and I was not required to write a positive review.