Here to talk about Carlyn Beccia's Raucous Royals with me is my sister, Bree, age 18, and our cousin, Marie, of Fireside Musings. We'll start right off with this question:
How would you describe The Raucous Royals in one sentence or less?
Marie: It is a book full of good artwork and interesting facts.
Bree: It's a book that tests your royal wits. A myth buster, very entertaining and informative.
Noel: I like the official description of history book meets tabloid. Okay, the book is all about rumors. What rumors had you heard before? any of them?
Marie: Actually, I don't think that I had... I did know some of the people, but the rumors were all new to me.
Bree: I'd heard the rumor that Anne Boleyn had six fingers and moles. Also that Richard III was a humpback.
Noel: Yeah, and that Napoleon was short short short. Was there a rumor you were surprised to see the answer to?
Marie: The answer to the last one was interesting About King George III going insane.
Bree: I would go insane after losing a revolution, too.
Marie: The treatments they gave him probably didn't help either...
Noel: Although gagging is something I often consider ... anyway, I like all the little tidbits of juicy information that Beccia seamlessly weaves into the story, like the rhyme to help you remember Henry's wives (divorced, beheaded, died etc.) and little quizzes to engage the reader as he travels through the book.
Marie: She does do a very good job a it ... my favorite quiz was the one about finding if you are a witch... I have a birthmark... but that is all. No eating babies or six fingers. Or cats.
Noel: So it's safe for you to sweep the house with your broom.
Bree: I was disappointed that there is no conformation of the rumor that Mary Queen of Scotland plotted to assassinate Elizabeth the first. I always wondered about that. And I still don't know. But the grossest thing I learned was that Queen E put puppy urine on her teeth to whiten them.
[Note: Now all the ads on Noel's g-mail sidebar are about whitening your teeth. Probably through different methods, though.]
Marie: That was kind of... disturbing.
Noel: What do you think is the book's target audience?
Marie: Even though anybody else will easily enjoy it, I think that it would be middle school children.
Noel: Beccia's style is very engaging, so older children, too, would willingly sit down and laugh over a few pages.
Bree: Yeah, I did!
Marie: Very willingly.
Noel: There's a great bibliography at the end, listing all the books Beccia used in her research. It's a great list for those whose interest is peaked by her book and want to look into a certain figure further.
Bree: I liked the section she wrote on "How you can research a rumor"
Marie: That was a nice close to the book. Sort of a 'how you can do this yourself now' part.
Noel: What was your favorite rumor, whether true or false?
Bree: The (false) rumor that Catherine the Great died by being crushed by her horse, or the (unconfirmed) rumor that Anne of Cleves looked like a horse.
Marie: Mine would be (the true rumor) that King George III went insane after losing the American colonies.
Noel: I have an interest in Napoleon right now, since one of my characters is obsessed with him, so I liked the bits on him, especially the reference in the bibliography to Napoleon for Dummies. I'll definitely be checking that out. :)
Bree: I also liked the tidbits like recipes for a meal in King Henry's day and things like that.
Noel: Well, one last question: would this book make a good Christmas gift? What sort of person would like to receive it?
Bree: Yeah, I would buy it, because it's very interesting. I would buy this over a Nintendo game.
Noel: Wow, high praise, there.
Marie: I think that this would make a wonderful Christmas gift. Anyone interested in art or history, even in the least, would probably love this book.
Noel: I already purchased it for the library where I work. I think it will be popular--a fun, colorful collection of stories that you can dip into a few minutes at a time.
Bree: I love the illustrations.
Marie: The illustrations do a good job at breaking up all the information, and for making a point.
Noel: And you come away with new-found knowledge!
Marie: I liked how it didn't require a lot of time to read. You could read a rumor or two, and then take a break. This would be very helpful for people who have short attention spans. Or, you could read the whole story at once, and because of the book's format retain lots of information.
Noel: Well, Marie, we'd better let you get back to your Christmas decorating. Thanks for chatting, and have a very Merry Christmas!!