As a little girl, and a budding history buff to boot, I loved these books. They gave me my first look at people they hadn't yet even bothered to teach a ten year old. As an adult, I've now tried to gather as many as I can (at least about the historical figures I'm interested in) and in my quest I came across this. And while certainly cute, it's also a neat way for youngsters to learn about some of the most interesting women of the past.
Elizabeth: Red Rose Of The House Of Tudor is about Elizabeth I. It takes place during the later years of Henry's marriage to Catherine Parr, so all three of Henry's children are present. You get to see both Elizabeth's struggle for Henry's approval, as well as her rivalry with Mary, who while given a little moment of remorse, is mostly cast in a negative light. Something we don't get to see a lot of in tv and film is Elizabeth as a child, so this is a neat perspective to see. Also included, much to my history loving glee, is the scene where Catherine's arrest warrant is brought forward and Henry, despite his age, still lets out that fearsome Tudor roar. Anyone who knows their history knows that this actually happened.
Isabel: Jewel Of Castila focuses on Isabella de Castilla, the woman famous for ruling in her own right, creating the Spanish Inquisition, supporting Christopher Columbus, and giving birth to some very famous daughters. Here she is a curious young girl who, while on a little adventure away from the prying eyes of her brother, crosses paths with the man who would become her future husband, Ferdinand of Aragon. This tale, while dealing with some serious internal sturggles, is an interesting and sometimes cute look at Isabella's life. However, if this prompts you to want to buy the book, be warned. It is, in my opinion, terribly, terribly boring, and does no justice to this vastly fascinating woman.
Cleopatra: Daughter Of The Nile shows us the Cleopatra that most people are familiar with, the seventh of that name that became the lover of Marc Antony. Here, she is a girl on the run, the only person with any faith left in her drunken father. Most of the book is spent in Europe rather than Africa, where while Cleopatra is hoping for help, her father becomes not only a mockery of his former self, but accustomed to simply sitting around and biding his time. She has a close relationship to her favorite goddess, Isis, and often prays to her for help. The book is a bit darker than this adaptation (tackling things such as beheadings and what happened to Cleopatra's young "beloved" sister after our protaganist became queen), but this is still a darn good look at ancient Egypt for the younger crowd. The only thing that struck a bad chord with me is that Cleo's dear Arrow has been downgraded to a cat, rather than an elegant leopard.
I plan on raising my future children with a vast well of historical knowledge, and this movie will definitely be going in the dvd player on family movie night!