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[FEB. 2, 2005]
"African Princess: the Amazing
Lives of Africa's Royal Women," by Joyce Hansen, illustrated by Laurie McGaw,
2004, Hyperion Books, 48 pages, ages 8-12.
How much do you really know about
Africa? Most people can say they know it is a continent, but how
many know that it is made up of many different countries with many
different customs? How much do most people in midstate Illinois know
about the history of this widely diversified continent? What do we
know about the royals of these ancient civilizations?
Joyce Hansen, in "African Princess:
the Amazing Lives of Africa's Royal Women," helps young readers
begin their exploration through Africa with the life stories of six
women who played important roles in the history of Africa. Each
biography in the book is short, with beautiful color illustrations
by Laurie McGaw. The detailed pictures help us imagine both the
people and the times in which they lived. A selected bibliography at
the end may encourage readers to explore a more in-depth account of
these interesting women's lives.
Starting with an early history from
Egypt, we learn about Hatshepsut, the very first woman pharaoh. This
young girl spent a great deal of time with her father, Pharaoh
Thutmose I. As he traveled throughout his kingdom, he instructed
Hatshepsut on how to govern. In her teenage years, the pharaoh died,
and Hatshepsut married her half-brother, Thutmose II, as was the
custom of the day. However, after three years her half-brother also
died, leaving an infant baby by a lesser wife as the new pharaoh.
Hatshepsut was appointed queen regent and after a few years did what
no one had done before -- had herself crowned as pharaoh.
[to top of second column in
Moving through time we meet Amina of
Zaria, Njinga of Matambu, Tata Ajache of Dahomey, Taytu Betul of
Ethiopia and finally Elizabeth of Toro. Elizabeth is a modern
princess, born in 1940 and still living today. She has seen many
governmental changes in her country during her lifetime: the
overthrow of the independent nation of Uganda headed by Elizabeth's
17-year-old brother Patrick, the police state of self-proclaimed
President Milton Obote and the reign of terror under Gen. Idi Amin.
Throughout this biography we learn about the personal life of this
modern-day princess, from her struggles in boarding school to her
education as a lawyer to her rise as an American supermodel to
holding many political positions, including ambassador to the United
Nations. Retiring from political life in 1995, she continues to be
involved with health and educational projects in her country today.
This book is an amazing walk through
the lives of these incredible women. Of course it is only a
beginning, but perhaps it will spark an interest in young readers to
dig deeper into the cultures and biographies of the fascinating
continent called Africa.
For other biographies of interesting
individuals, come in and see us at the Lincoln Public Library, 725
[Louella Moreland, youth