Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Kings & Queens of Britain

Kings and Queens of Britain: A Victorian Mneumonic or Learning Verse. New lines by Frances Barnes-Murphy. Illustrated by Rowan Barnes-Murphy. 1996. 40 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: William the Conqueror long did reign/ William Rufus by an arrow was slain/ Henry I was a scholar bright/ Stephen was king without any right/

Premise/plot: This is a picture book adaptation of a Victorian mneumonic verse that has been updated by Frances Barnes-Murphy. The purpose of the original--and of the update--is to aid in the memorization of the kings and queens. Each monarch has his or her own page. The line of the poem about that monarch is on the top of the page. Facts--or opinions--about each monarch further litter the heavily illustrated pages. I could find no original author or source. I believe there are variations. I've included the original below, but NOT the updated text which is new.
William the Conqueror long did reign,
William, his son, by an arrow was slain;
Henry the First was a scholar bright;
Stephen was king without any right.
Henry the Second, Plantagenet's scion;
Richard the First was as brave as a lion;
John, though a tyrant, the Charter signed;
Henry the Third had a weakly mind.
Edward the First conquered Cambria dales;
Edward the Second was born Prince of Wales;
Edward the Third humbled France in its pride;
Richard the Second in prison died.
Henry the Fourth for himself took the crown;
Henry the Fifth pulled the French king down;
Henry the Sixth lost his father's gains.
Edward of York laid hold of the reins;
Edward the Fifth was killed with his brother;
Richard the Third soon made way for another.
Henry the Seventh was frugal of means;
Henry the Eighth had a great many queens.
Edward the Sixth reformation began;
Cruel Queen Mary prevented the plan.
Wise and profound were Elizabeth's aims.
England and Scotland were joined by King James.
Charles found the people a cruel corrector;
Oliver Cromwell was called Lord Protector;
Charles the Second was hid in an oak,
James the Second took Popery's yoke.
William and Mary were offered the throne,
Anne succeeded and reigned alone.
George the First from Hanover came;
George the Second kept up the name;
George the Third was loved in the land,
George the Fourth was pompous and grand,
William the Fourth had no heir of his own,
So Queen Victoria ascended the throne.
My thoughts: I'll be honest. I am fairly confident I know my Kings and Queens in order. I'd much rather be quizzed on that than on the order of American presidents. More honesty for you: I'm glad the days of pop quizzes are over for me.

I wanted to really love this one. I did. But. The illustrations are HORRIBLE. And not in a horrible history way. Someone should have told the author/illustrator/publisher that more isn't always better. In fact, sometimes it's much, much worse. The problem for me is the layout is so cluttered, so busy. The font choice is difficult to read. The font is printed often in curves and waves instead of a straight line. Sometimes the font is printed in the wrong direction altogether.

The text itself was enjoyable. Just not the layout or design.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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