Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review: A Map and a Mule



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A Map and a Mule: A Peace Story of Queen Isabel of Portugal
By: Eric Timar
Published by:  Pannonius Books; Date: 2012
ISBN: 978-1480290907
Price: $9.25
Ages: Ages 5-8
Rating:  5 stars
Reviewed by: Wayne S. Walker

 Synopsis:  If two countries are planning to fight each other over a piece of disputed territory, what can be done to stop them?  Queen Isabel of Portugal lived from 1271 to 1336.  Her husband was King Dennis.  There was a town called Serpa which was between Portugal and its neighbor Spain.  Each country claimed it.  This was during the days of knights, so the knights of Spain got ready to fight the knights of Portugal.  What did Queen Isabel do to help solve the problem?  And later, what did she do to keep two sons of King Dennis who were arguing over who would get to rule which parts of Portugal from going to battle with each other?

 Overall thoughts:   Author Eric Timar, who also wrote Seven Lambs: Stories of Peace from the Old Testament, gives us two fascinating episodes from the life of Queen Isabel of Portugal, a peacemaker of the Middle Ages.  Of course, everyone can benefit from the interesting historical information related in the book.  Not many people would know of Isabel’s involvement in the Treaty of Alcanices of 1297 which established the boundary between Spain and Portugal.  And kids who like to read about knights and all things medieval will enjoy the stories.  

Illustrations from various sources include the cover watercolor, portraits of Isabel, a period painting of knights, and the detail of a vintage map.  But most important is the idea of seeking peaceful solutions to disagreements.  A Map and a Mule is a great little book with a great big message.
     

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