Saturday, October 25, 2008

Alexander the Great Rocks the World by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Review by Mary Harrsch

This children's book did a very good job of touching on the significant events of the life of Alexander the Great. Author Vicky Alvear Shecter's modern banter may not be every adult's cup of tea but I think kids overall prefer to take life a little less seriously so I'm sure Shecter's touch of levity made the stodgy subject of history much more palatable to its intended audience. I also think she wisely avoided any potential controversy over explanations of the relationship between Alexander and Hephaistion by simply describing them as the best of friends so conservative parents would not raise a ruckus about the book's inclusion in any school library.

I particularly enjoyed Shecter's inclusion of quotes from some of Alexander's famous contemporaries like Aristotle as well as other notable Greeks..

"A true friend is like a soul in two bodies." and "All virtue is summed up in dealing justly". and "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

She even dug up a quote attributed to Alexander himself: "Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all."

In addition to images of paintings and ancient art, each chapter was illustrated with whimsical sketches by Terry Naughton, a former Disney animator who worked on such Disney classics as the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Lion King.

I can see why the book was selected by the Junior Library Guild for excellence in children's literature.

Vicky contacted me about using some of my images of artwork featuring Cleopatra to use in a new book she hopes to write on the famous Egyptian Queen. At the time, she was looking for a publisher for the project. I hope she found one as I'm sure it would be as equally well done.

Recommended for Grades 5 - 8.
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