23 March, 2010

The Dog Who Loved a Queen

The Dog Who Loved a Queen by Jackie French.

Jackie French has to be one of my favourite children's/ young adult writers. She is witty, intelligent and does not talk down to her reader. Her picture book Diary of a Wombat is most probably one of my all time favourites.

I picked up The Dog because it was in a box of books I was covering for my son's school library. It's a new school and you can just imagine the amount of books that need covering! Anyway, this caught my attention since a) it was Jackie French and b) it was royal history. Based on a true story, it is told from the point of view of a dog (Scottish terrier) who became the pet of Mary, Queen of Scots, during her imprisonment by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. It presented the history well for the target audience, keeping it simple without omitting too many details. Yet, for me, it fell flat. For me it just did not adequately express the length or dreariness of being held captive for 19 years. I don't think kids will fully understand it's effect, focusing more on the apparent lavishness of Mary's prison. The problem is, I'm not sure how you would convey the idea that regardless of how lovely the room, how sumptuous the meals, how nice the gaolers, the complete loss of freedom to move about as you wish would be horrendous. Apparently there are others in "The Animal Stars" series, but I don't think I'll go looking for them.