Cleopatra Rules! The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Cleopatra Rules! The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen Book Poster Image
Hip, fun, and balanced look at the famous female pharaoh.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Little known truths about the famous queen Cleopatra come to light as the book covers the rise of the queen's family to power, internal and international struggles, and how life was lived during the "teen queen's" reign. Helpful maps, artifacts, and illustrations help bring the ancient time to life.

Positive Messages

Perseverance, loyalty, and commitment to scholarship are themes that run through the book. It also reaffirms the idea that women can be strong rulers and brilliant politicians.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though modern Western history casts Cleopatra as anything but a positive role model, this book sheds light on her admirable qualities. She has a curious intellect, a thirst for knowledge, and she shows fierce loyalty to her country and children, using every bit of her knowledge to protect them both.


The violence here is consistent with the time period. People are beheaded, stabbed, commit suicide, etc., but the descriptions, historical photos, and sculptures depicting these acts are not graphic.


Cleopatra is talked about as being sexy, and her affairs with two Romans are recounted. The cultural practice of marrying a sibling is mentioned and described as unacceptable now but common in ancient Egypt. Also, there are several photos and sculptures that show naked human forms, but these are artistic portrayals, often in world-famous paintings.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults are portrayed drinking wine, and some are described as getting drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this informal history, peppered with puns and teen slang, features mystery, fights, death, murder, suicide, brother-sister marriage, drunks -- typical fare for a biographical look at an ancient ruler. There is nothing questionable in the book that isn't seen in mainstream media. In fact, it's relatively tame considering what currently appears in much tween/teen entertainment.

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What's the story?

The story of Cleopatra's life and rule comes to life in this unconventional history written in the voice and slang of contemporary teens. Thanks to extensive research, including into atypical texts, readers learn details about Cleopatra's family, her childhood, her reign, and her powerful enemies that may have been missing from more conventional histories. The book dispels myths while teaching kids what life was like for a typical teen queen -- complete with makeup tips, boy gossip, and deploying enormous armies.

Is it any good?

History is cool again in this hip, fun exploration into the life of Queen Cleopatra. Life as a teen pharaoh isn't all it's cracked up to be. Thousands of years of innuendo, bad PR, and Hollywood versions of her story have painted her as a conniving tramp, when the real story is much more exciting and refreshing. Kids should be hooked from the first glance at its glamorous, edgy cover. 

Sidebars, graphics, bright photos, and slang enliven the text. Heavy on metaphors, such as, “[they] trash-talked her worse than feuding starlets at a Hollywood club,” the language won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it will resonate with kids and reluctant readers. Amid the fluff and contempo tone, the information is solid and well-researched, and extensive footnotes and sources are provided for those interested in learning more about Egypt's famous queen.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about loyalty. Why is it important to Cleopatra to reclaim lands her country lost? What other ways did she show loyalty?

  • Families can also talk about perception vs. reality. What are some of the things you thought you knew about Cleopatra before reading the book? How did reading it change your perception? Name other modern-day examples of things not being as they appear.

  • This book is written in the casual way teens talk. Does that help make history come alive for you? Is it better than the way your history textbook is written? Or is it a gimmick to get teens hooked on history?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

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