Julia Eccleshare, expert on children’s and young adult’s fiction and literature (and Book Doctor at The Guardian), recently wrote a piece for theguardian.com with recommendations for historical fiction for children and teenagers which is not about the world wars. Of Rosemary Sutcliff she said:
In her many novels, Rosemary Sutcliff charted the making of Britain from the simple living of the upland shepherds of the Bronze Age in Warrior Scarlet to Elizabethan England in The Queen Elizabeth Story. She concentrated particularly on Roman Britain reflecting the many attitudes and experiences around the coming together of different cultures as the Romans and the indigenous population learned to live together and to blend their two very different ways of life.
In a loose series of titles which includes The Eagle of the Ninth and Dawn Wind Rosemary Sutcliff writes of Romano-British occupation and skirmish but she also details the home life of both sides describing the cooking, weaving and celebrations of the British tribes and the more advanced home comforts of the Roman invaders such as the installation of central heating in their villas.
Other authors she recommended were: Geoffrey Trease, Leon Garfield, Jill Paton Walsh, Berlie Doherty, Sally Nicholls, Adele Geras, John Rowe Townsend, and Melvin Burgess .
Of Rosemary Sutcliff, Lizzy at LibraryThing writes to me:
When I was 10 my mum bought me The Queen Elizabeth Story. It was the first Rosemary Sutcliff I had read. I was fascinated with the historical detail, especially the clothes. I didn’t know what a ‘kirtle’ was at all. But by far the best part was when the tapestry of “Samarkhand the Golden” came to life. It is one of my favourite passages in literature, along with “Riddles in the Dark” from “The Hobbit”. My daughter is about to turn 10 and so I shall introduce her to Warrior Scarlet, The Eagle of the Ninth et al before long.
Charlotte thinks that Rosemary Sutcliff’s children’s historical novel The Queen Elizabeth Story is “a lovely book, full of thick description and vivid character and history made real. And its magic is aided and abetted by the wonderful drawings of C. Walter Hodges“, her “favourite children’s book illustrator.” Charlotte was writing a review on the Charlotte’s Library blog.
What really made this book for me, when I was young, was Adam. He was my first book love ( I was nine), and I am awfully fond of him still. He is lame, but so gallant and kind that Perdita doesn’t notice it…and in a scene I especially love, he invites a sad and lonely Perdita to a private banquet at the manor, where he makes the lords and ladies of a tapestry come alive for her in a glorious magical wonderful-ness.