Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

This was the first book I ever successfully listened to on a Playaway. (I tried to listen to Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson but had difficulty with the device.) A Playaway is a dedicated MP3 player for a book. It is the book on tape on its own MP3 player. They supply the battery and you supply the headphones...perfect for walking around the neighborhood. Nothing to download or buy...
This is a work of historical fiction. It is the story of Cleopatra's daughter with Mark Antony, Cleopatra Seline. Seline was a twin; her name, Seline, means moon, and her brother was named Alexander Helios, which means sun. They also had a younger brother, Ptolemy, named for their family tree that descended from Alexander the Great, the Ptolemy's. This work includes many real historical figures including: Octavian (later Augustus), Tiberius, Agrippa, and Juba II.
I really enjoyed this work. What excites me most about it is the idea of putting it in the hands of a teenager who has just finished reading Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. I hate that play! My personal feeling is that Shakespeare's only flaw is that all of his plays climax in Act III, leaving you two more acts to go. This is not a problem in Romeo and Juliet, but it is a HUGE problem when trying to get kids to read a historical tragedy like JC. Back to this work: I can't wait for some teenage girl to pick it up and realize that Mark Antony was a real guy who went on from the Triumvirate to have this crazy life with Cleopatra. I know the history, but I'm not even sure I really connected the two parts of his life until I read this. The book also mentions Cleopatra's son with Julius Caesar, Caesarion, for another reference to JC. It's just full of little historical nuggets that made me happy.
Comment: I like the author's note at the end comparing these worldly eleven to fourteen year-olds to today's child actors: young people thrust into an adult world at a young age. I thought it was an apt modern-day comparison.
You can see the cover and read an excert at http://michellemoran.com/books/cleopatra/excerpt.html.