A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Kids learn a lot about everyday life as in ancient Roman/Egyptian times. Instead of romanticizing the period, includes fascinating details, such as how white clothing was bleached with urine, and takes on big issues, including the unequal treatment of men and women and the brutality of war.
The book's light bulb moment is a culmination of the heroine's growth. Instead of trying to become her mother, she chooses instead to find her own power and focus on her own accomplishments. Throughout the novel there are examples of kindness, love, and self-sacrifice that are also positive examples for tween and teens.
Positive Role Models
The book has very big villains but also very prominent positive role models, who are not without flaws but rise to meet challenges when needed. Cleopatra Selene's mother, brothers, and close friend Juba are all positive role models in her life. Cleopatra Selene herself has a passion for truth, family, and the internal strength it takes to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.
Violence & Scariness
There is a good deal of violence in the last days of Queen Cleopatra's reign. The suicides of Mark Antony and others are described in detail, including the look, smell, and color of the blood. There are also descriptions of animal sacrifice, beatings, murder, the attempted rape of a child, allusions to the rape of women by soldiers and poisoning of enemies. Readers also will encounter crucifixions and the strangulation death of a prisoner.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There is talk of sex, including sexual promiscuity and the use of prostitutes and concubines throughout the novel. The virginity of a girl is discussed several times, as well as a sexual encounter of a teen girl and her almost lover. There are naked men and women, and a young girl is almost raped. There is also discussion of eunuchs and "effeminate" men.
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A mother is called "whore," "slut," "bastard," "bitch," while her children are present. And there is some use of swear words of ancient times. But, overall, the language is striking only in how hurtful it can be.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One adult male has an obvious drinking problem, and others are shown drinking wine and beer. Also, people are given special drinks that induce visions during an initiation ceremony.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this work of historical fiction gives readers a vivid picture of what life was like for Cleopatra's children during the period leading up to and following her death. The novel includes swear words, some harsh name calling, suicides, murder, and attempted rape. The book shows the brutality of war, which may be especially disturbing as it is presented in an eye-witness account of a child. There is also discussion of sexuality in both positive and negative relationships.
Is It Any Good?
Author Vicky Alvear Schecter brings Cleopatra's daughter Cleopatra Selene to life in this truly engaging and exciting novel. The characters are well developed and Schecter is masterful at drawing a picture of ancient Egypt and Rome so detailed readers can almost feel the marble of Egypt underneath their feet and smell the harbor of Rome. The novel is perfectly paced and filled with action, romance, aching loss, and redemption. Teen and tween readers will find themselves completely captivated and feel their heart race alongside Cleopatra Selene's.
Parents may want to read CLEOPATRA'S MOON alongside their children, particularly younger ones, as it has many disturbing scenes and complicated topics. This is a great book for discussing women's roles in ancient times and today. This is one of those books that both adults and their kids will love.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.