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BECOMING CHARLEMAGNE; Europe, Baghdad, and the Empires of A.D. 800

Author: Jeff Sypeck

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Publisher: Ecco, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,

Material: paperback

Summary: The year is 800 A.D. The location is Rome. Karlus Magnus, king of the Franks, has come to Rome to celebrate Christmas with Pope Leo III. As a reward for protecting Rome and the Papacy from being taken over by powerful kings, nobles, barbarians, Pope Leo crowned Karlus Magnus “Charlemagne”, Holy Roman Emporer. This is a non-fiction history of the Holy Roman Empire

Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 12; read yourself: 13 and up

Interest Level: 12 and up

Reading Level: 9.6

Age of Child: Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™

Young Reader Reaction: The book develops Charlemagne’s rise and fall and documents all the rulers that follow after him. The effects of Charlemagne’s reign are explored through the history of many different countries across world. Charlemagne and his legacy are truly a great example of history that affects so many. As a student studying European history, Becoming Charlemagne was a fairly interesting book for me to read. However, its contents are very dense and oftentimes, not the easiest to comprehend. The technique Sypeck uses in his book channel that of an actual story. Being one who’s accustomed to reading history from a textbook, I found this new style of recalling history very different. The material is quite fascinating, but unless the reader has a true heart for history, I wouldn’t suggest it to them. Becoming Charlemagne isn’t a pleasure reading book, but it definitely would serve great use as a reference material. This isn’t the sort of book I would purchase for myself, but as a library book, it’s definitely a great option.

Adult Reader Reaction: The author has provided the reader with a panoramic setting of Europe in 800 A.D. while at the same time, accurately and interestingly portraying everyday life in medieval Europe. I taught European history for many years, and would rate this a 9 out of 10!

Pros: This is a captivating story that provides the reader with drama, intrigue, pageantry, and adventure that are seldom associated with medieval history.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. The history buffs and, more specifically, medieval history aficionados will applaud a "buy” recommendation and tell all their friends about the book. For readers who are curious but don’t want to make an investment, you should definitely borrow this book from your library.

If You Liked This Book, Try: The Darkness and the Dawn by Thomas Costain; The Earth is the Lord's by Taylor Caldwell AMERICA: THE MAKING OF A NATION   IN THE SHADOW OF THE CATHEDRAL: GROWING UP IN HOLLAND DURING WORLD WAR II   DINOMUMMY; The life, Death and Discovery of Dakota A Dinosaur from Hell Creek

Educational Themes: This book provides insight to a major historical event of the middle ages, namely, the establishment of the Holy Roman Empire and crowning of Karlus Magnus, “Charlemagne”, the Holy Roman Emporer. Readers will be intrigued with the level of civilization that had been attained in 800 A.D. They will be awe-struck by the challenges that faced the medieval families that made life difficult and dangerous.

Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 9.6

Literary Categories: Nonfiction - biography, history, Europe, middle grade, young adult

Date(s) Reviewed: January 2009

Other Reviews:


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