Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
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*        = Good, with reservations


****Girl in a Cage

by Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris

Reviewed July 7, 2003.
Philomel Books, New York, 2002.  234 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JF YOL).
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out of 2003:  #2, Young Adult and Children's Historical Fiction

I can’t think of a better way to learn about history than to read a good historical novel.  I’ll always remember the details about the Maid of Norway who was briefly queen of Scotland because I read Frances Mary Hendry’s Quest for a Maid.  Now I will long remember details about Robert Bruce and his daughter Marjorie from having read Girl in a Cage.

When King Edward of England was hunting Robert Bruce of Scotland, he captured some of the women of the Bruce family and had them imprisoned in open cages to be taunted by townspeople.  This book focuses on eleven-year-old Princess Marjorie, Robert Bruce’s sole heir.

The story is expertly told.  Instead of simply telling what it was like to sit in a cage for three weeks, the authors alternate chapters about the imprisonment with chapters about how Marjorie got there.  They tell about how her father was crowned King of Scotland and then the reverses that sent them all fleeing for their lives.  This method adds tremendous suspense to the story.  We see great growth in Marjorie as she goes from vanity at thinking herself a princess to having the strength to outwit the king of England while she is dirty and starving and trapped in a cage.

I’m putting this book in the “Children’s Fiction” category because Marjorie is only eleven, but the seriousness of the story makes it good reading for older teens all the way up to adults.  I’m happy to set off toward Scotland with this piece of Scottish history wedged much more firmly in my head than when I simply read about names and dates.  A wonderful book!

Other books by Jane Yolen:

Take Joy:  A Book for Writers
Sword of the Rightful King
Sleeping Ugly
Mightier Than the Sword: World Folktales for Strong Boys

The Perfect Wizard:  Hans Christian Andersen

The Wizard's Map
The Pictish Child
The Bagpiper's Ghost

With Robert J. Harris:  Hippolyta and the Curse of the Amazons 

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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