Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Raucous Royals by Carlyn Beccia

There's nothing better than a bit of juicy gossip about royals. It's what makes history interesting and probably why I find most American history pretty boring. Never mind the fact that they slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people, spent money lavishly while their subjects starved, and went around taking over other people's countries. The point is royals of yore dressed fabulously while doing it. Those good old days are gone, though. I haven't seen an outfit yet on Elizabeth II that doesn't make her look frumpy (though I will admit, she knows a good hat when she sees one).
Beccia brings those jaw-dropping royals back to life in her deliciously illustrated new book. The rich colors echo the ostentatious luxury of royalty and her portraits seem as though they came off the gallery of some 16th Century castle with a dubious past.
Beccia chose a true or false approach to her subject and it serves her purpose well. Readers get a lesson in detective work and untrustworthy sources as well as tasty tidbits of information. My 5th and 6th graders nearly threw up after reading a typical menu served to Henry VIII - mind you, I did add the part about people making themselves sick at banquets just so they could cram more grilled beaver tail or roasted peacock down their throats. This led to an interesting discussion that I shall not elaborate on here. Suffice it to say that every page of Beccia's marvelous book sparks a myriad of topics for conversation - not many of them suitable for the dinner table, which of course kids love!
The Raucous Royals is Carlyn Beccia's second book. The first is Who Put the B in Ballyhoo.