Monday, May 30, 2011
Ancient World History (Greece): Alexander the Great (Demi)
It is Nonfiction Monday. This week History with a Twist is the host. Click HERE to check out other non-fiction book highlights.
Summary of Alexander the Great:
Alexander the Great was born in 356 B.C. in Macedonia. As a boy, he trained for battle and for leadership. He learned to scale mountains, to throw a javelin, and to fight lions. Showing bravery and cleverness, he tamed a wild and spirited horse that no one else could ride. At thirteen, the great philosopher and teacher Aristotle tutored him in literature, medicine, science, and philosophy. Aristotle also taught him the importance of compassion. From his father, he learned about the wars and fighting amongst the Macedonians, Greeks, and Persians. At a time when most modern students are still in high school, Alexander was leading a cavalry into battle and conquering cities. When his father was assassinated, Alexander, then 20 years old, was prepared to be king. He, also, had the military skills to become the greatest general who ever lived.
During his remaining 12 years, he conquered the Greeks, the Persians, and most of the known world of ancient Greece. The major battles and highlights are covered in Demi’s narrative biography of this mighty general. A few personal stories are also included, such as the relationship with his dearest friend Hephaestion, his encounter with a wise sage, and his final analysis of his life. Alexander the Great brought the Greek culture to Asia and the Asian traditions to Greece. He, also, laid the ground work for another great power: Rome.
I am a huge fan of Demi’s fiction and non-fiction works. She has a unique artistic approach in her many multi-cultural books which is reminiscent of Asian and traditional styles. The illustrations contrast a few bright colors with lighter neutrals and shiny gold accents. Demi covers the highlights of a historical figure with a rich, active life. As a result, the material is denser and longer than most picture books. Younger readers will likely need to move through it in a couple of sittings. Demi does a brilliant job interspersing the personal vignettes with Alexander’s many military and political victories. She conveys well his importance in world history and his personal feelings of emptiness despite all the victories. These ideas induce the reader to consider what makes a life well-lived and fulfilling. I recommend Demi’s Alexander the Great for ages 8 and up.