Working from a packet of letters found in a London bookshop, Myers reconstructs the life of one Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a child of royal African descent who was rescued by a British sea captain from a sacrificial rite in Dahomey, became a goddaughter of Queen Victoria, and grew up in a succession of upper middle-class households. A celebrity in her day, Sarah, or Sally, as she was also known, visited the Queen regularly, traveled repeatedly between England and Africa, grew up to marry a West African businessman, named her first born Victoria, and died of tuberculosis in 1880, aged about 37. Filling in gaps with well-chosen passages from newspapers, memoirs, and the Queen’s diary, plus occasional speculations—“Snow! What must she have thought of snow?”—Myers (Angel to Angel, p. 498, etc.) creates a credible, perceptive picture of her probable experiences, adding for flavor detailed accounts of her wedding, a royal wedding she attended, and a general glimpse of London street life. He suggests that, although she may have felt caught between two worlds, and fully comfortable in neither, she had a lively intelligence and a gracious, forgiving nature. A generous selection of contemporary prints and photographs includes both British and African scenes, as well as portraits of Sarah and both Victorias. This solidly researched biography will enthrall readers, and ranks among Myers’s best writing. (Biography. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-48669-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

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A blend of fact and fiction in both text and pictures add up to a resistible invitation to create coded messages by substituting Egyptian hieroglyphics for plain language. In the perfunctory plot, an archeologist acquires a mysterious, veiled helper who guides him from one simple written clue to the next, leading ultimately to an artifact that was stolen and hidden away thousands of years ago. Along the way there’s plenty of opportunity to explain ancient Egyptian writing and funerary customs, to fill page space with small photos or images of surviving or reconstructed tombs, sarcophagi, painted murals and statuary and to practice translating the aforementioned clues. The historical information is easily available elsewhere, and though the downloadable typeface on the embedded CD will make the creation of new messages much less tedious than having to draw hieroglyphics by hand, even dedicated fans of codes and ciphers aren’t likely to give this more than a quick once-over. (Fact/fiction blend. 11-13)

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7534-6411-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2010

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Wheeler offers a scrapbook-style travelogue of her seven-month stint on the world’s coldest continent. Letters to her...


            In an eye-opening companion to such works as Jennifer Armstrong’s Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World (1999) and Elizabeth Cody Kimmel’s Ice Story (p.  66) on Shackleton, readers get a contemporary look at Antarctica.

            Wheeler offers a scrapbook-style travelogue of her seven-month stint on the world’s coldest continent.  Letters to her godson, Daniel, describe a harsh environment so cold that dental fillings fall out.  Double-page spreads dotted with full-color snapshots form short chapters on the icy region, suiting up, the difficulties of everyday existence, food and drink, shelter, transportation, entertainment, and wildlife.  The last third of the volume is devoted to current scientific pursuits as well as an overview of famous expeditions to the nearly uninhabitable “bottom of the planet.”  The cheery photographs – most by the author – show her dwarfed by the Barne glacier, posing with Emperor penguins, even building an igloo.  While the chatty letters highlight personal details of the trip, boxed inserts provide background information.  Key dates in Antarctic history complete this accessible profile, ideal as entry into units on the region.  (maps, charts, diagrams, further reading, index)  (Nonfiction.  8-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-87226-295-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1999

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