Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

10 Kings and Queens Who Changed the World

10 Kings and Queens Who Changed the World

Clive Gifford
Illustrator:  David Cousens 
For ages 9 to 11
Kingfisher, 2009   ISBN: 978-0753462522

These days there are a very few kings or queens who have any real political power. Instead, countries are led by prime ministers, presidents, and dictators. However, in the past, kings and queens were often the people who controlled the government, made the laws, and waged war. Some even led their armies to protect their countries or to invade the lands of the countries around them.

One such king was Alexander the Great, who not only vanquished the Greek cities states around his own kingdom of Macedon, but who also went on to battle the Persians, Indians, and the Egyptians. Alexander and his armies travelled far from Macedon, and in “only 13 years, Alexander created the greatest empire the world had ever seen.”

Creating empires was something many kings and queens did, but there were some who focused more on making their own country strong internally. One of these rulers was Queen Elizabeth I of England. In her youth, Elizabeth saw how changes damaged her country. She saw how her half sister Mary ruled with a rod of iron and how hated she was. When it was Elizabeth’s turn to be queen, the young woman inherited a kingdom that was “ravaged by poor harvests and unsuccessful wars.” England was also in “danger of being torn apart by religious uprising.”

With a firm hand, Elizabeth set about strengthening England. Her forces were able to defend England from a Spanish invasion, and she was determined that England should be strong, which was one of the reasons why she never married. Had she done so, her husband would have been king, and he might not have supported England’s interests as she did.

This fascinating book explores the lives of ten of the world’s most interesting and extraordinary rulers. In addition to Alexander the Great and Elizabeth I of England, there are portraits of Hatshepsut, Charlemagne, Henry VIII, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent, Louis XIV, Frederick the Great, and Catherine the Great. At the back of the book, the author tells us about four other monarchs whose rule had a profound effect on the world.

For each biographical portrait, the author has written an account of that king or queen’s life, which is supplemented by annotated illustrations and maps. At the end of each biography, the author shows the reader how that ruler is connected to the ruler whose portrait follows.

This book is one of the titles in a series that looks at the lives of famous people whose actions “changed the world.”