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The Queen's Progress: An Elizabethan Alphabet

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Rhymed verses, stunning illustrations, and a fascinating text all come together to form this imaginative story about Queen Elizabeth and her progresses, or journeys, through England's countryside. Ibatoulline's illustrations are not only beautiful colorful works of art, they also tell a story within a story-one about the attempted murder of the queen and about her loyal servants who seek revenge. The main text follows Elizabeth's travels and is filled with anecdotes and historical details.

Perfect for history-lovers, alert readers, and suspense-seekers, this multi-layered picture book reveals something new with each reading.

Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

48 pages, Hardcover

First published May 26, 2003

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About the author

Celeste Davidson Mannis

6 books5 followers

Celeste Davidson Mannis, the award winning author of several books for children, is convinced she has the best job in the world. "Writing for children is one of my greatest joys. Children are wonderfully open to new ideas. My goal is to explore aspects of our world - its people, cultures, history, and natural wonders - in a way that fuels their amazing intelligence and curiosity. Knowledge is power, and it's my fondest wish that through my books I can help provide children with a sense of their own potential and unique place in the greater world community."

Born in Los Angeles, California, Celeste now resides there with her much loved husband and daughters. She promises to go grocery shopping soon! Celeste holds undergraduate degrees in History and The History of Art, as well as a Masters in Business Administration, all from the University of Southern California. She has also studied British History and Renaissance Art History at the University of London.

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5 stars
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44 (44%)
3 stars
16 (16%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews
Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,077 reviews104 followers
December 9, 2017
Celeste Davidson Mannis' The Queen's Progress is truly an absolutely amazing, historically detailed, gorgeously illustrated alphabet book for older children (and actually anyone, adults included, desiring to know information and details about Queen Elizabeth I of England and her annual summer progresses through the English countryside). The author's engaging, poetical text actually seems to work, never sounding or feeling forced or artificial, and the historical details accompanying each of the "letters" are a real font of historical and social information, to read, savour, discuss and analyse. And with regard to Bagram Ibatoulline's accompanying, simply gorgeous illustrations, what can I say except that their richness, their wondrous colour and minute detail simply have figuratively quite blown me away (and continue to do so), enchanting, wowing me. Furthermore, The Queen's Progress is also a bit of a historical thriller (there is a traitorous plot against the Queen). Can you (can your child) discover the traitors lurking amongst the masses of cheering onlookers and loyal subjects?

Now I almost have almost rated The Queen's Progress with five stars (and I actually feel more than a little guilty at not having done so), but there is one addition that I really think the author should have included with this book, and that is a glossary of Mediaeval and/or Elizabethan terms, especially of the articles of clothing (the diverse costumes) Elizabeth I and her entourage are wearing in the illustrations. Many of the articles of clothing depicted have rather specific names, but unless one is familiar with these terms, one is likely not to know or even be aware of the latter. In my opinion, a glossary would make discussing the illustrations, the historical details and information both easier and more rewarding (and more of a teaching/learning experience); it would have made The Queen's Progress a truly perfect historical alphabet book for me. Still, very, very highly recommended (and I am seriously considering purchasing a copy for myself).
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,189 reviews
June 3, 2011
A remarkable introduction to Queen Elizabeth I, this story follows the "queen's progress" (her annual "vacation" during which she leads a caravan across the countryside). I wondered at first it focusing on this particular aspect of the queen's reign was limiting the scope too much; after all, so much of her life happened when she was *not* on holiday. But, in Mannis' skillful hands, we receive a full portrait of this remarkable woman, humanitarian and ruler. Each letter in the alphabet heads a four-line rhyme, then there is factual information to further elucidate on the points being made. (And big kudos for not cheating on the letters X or Z!!!) The illustrations are beautiful and detailed and really transported me into that time period.

The thoroughness of this biography on Queen Elizabeth I is understandable when one reads the author's bio and realizes that she initially set out to write a full-length novel about the Queen. When that faltered, someone suggested she write a children's book instead. The remarkable thing here is that she could distill all her years of research into this compact format. No small feat!

All in all, I highly recommend this book for young readers (or any readers!) interested in learning more about this astounding human being. (Due to the length of the picture book, and depth of subject matter, I recommend it for the older picture book crowd on up.)
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,749 reviews1,214 followers
April 20, 2011
First I have to say something: Elizabethan collars are just awful; they’re atrocious.

Secondly, It’s crucial to know that this book was created as a children’s picture book only after the author had done 7 years of research and had written over 1,000 pages with the idea of a historical novel in mind; when she got to that point and was nowhere near done with her book, she took the advice to turn all her work into a picture book for children. It shows. Of course, not all the material makes it into this book, but the care shown and depth of what’s there is apparent.

This is a lavishly illustrated story of a queen’s progress, of her annual summer vacation caravan. Each page is a feast for the eyes. There is so much to view, and it seems to be period authentic.

The reader must read this at least twice. The story is told simultaneously two ways: by a short rhyme, with each stanza starting with each letter of the alphabet (hence, the alphabet book format) and text boxes that provide more in depth facts. The first time I enjoyed reading the book straight through, but then I wanted to go back and just read the A-Z rhyming portions. The is also a page at the end that gives even more information about Elizabeth Tudor and about her place in history.

I learned a lot about Queen Elizabeth I, and was for the most part favorably impressed, and found myself feeling sympathy for her, and I also learned some more about the culture of the era.

So: A is for adventure, B is for bear, C is for crown, D is for dancers, E is for England, F is for feast, G is for garden, H is for hunters, I is for intrigue, J is for jester, K is for knight, L is for ladies, M is for maid, N is for nighttime and nobles, O is for orchard, P is for players, Q is for queen, R is for roses, S is for song, T is for treason, U is for useful, V is for victory, W is for water, X is for xystus (a bower for flowers), Y is for yeoman, Z is for zounds!

This is a fabulous, advanced alphabet book, and readers interested in Elizabethan England, royalty, and/or intricate picture book illustrations are likely to appreciate it.

4 ½ stars
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,088 reviews182 followers
December 23, 2019
Part alphabet book, part biography, part historical study, The Queen's Progress is the ideal picture-book introduction to the subject of Queen Elizabeth I, and of the Elizabethan period in England. Following the queen's caravan, on one of her annual summer trips through the English countryside - known as the "Queen's Progress," these yearly journeys allowed Elizabeth a holiday from London, and the cares of government, while also keeping her in the hearts and minds of the people, with whom she freely mixed - Celeste Davidson Mannis' rhyming narrative touches upon some of the important social and political realities of the day, including the ever-present threat upon the monarch's life.

This really is an outstanding work of history for the younger set, informative but also entertaining, with beautiful artwork by Bagram Ibatoulline, and a dual narrative - a simple rhyming text uses the alphabet as an organization tool ("J is for Jester," etc.), while more extensive prose selections fill in some of the historical details - that can be appreciated by readers of different ages and levels. I loved Ibatoulline's decorative letters, the costumes and pageantry in each scene, and the overall idea conveyed by both artwork and text, that this was an exciting moment in history. Obviously, it was! Highly recommended to young history buffs, particularly those with an interest in Elizabethan times!
Profile Image for Melody.
2,623 reviews254 followers
August 2, 2011
The word that kept springing to mind was sumptuous. The illustrations are rich, rich, rich! The fashions are intense and meticulously reproduced. There's a mischievous dog on most of the pages- sometimes biting a bad guy, sometimes running off with the sausages. The dual narrative works really well- there's a simple-ish rhyming alphabet, then a bit more of an explanation of the times and the people in a box on the same or the facing page. It all comes together in a delightful Tudor panoply. The Tudor era is one I've read much about- I've been fascinated by the era since I was small, and to see it from this perspective was a treat. For all the biographies I've read of Elizabeth, though, this was the first time I'd seen Thomasina mentioned. I'm intrigued by this female jester who apparently served under both Mary and Elizabeth. It's a lovely book, highly recommended for both Elizabethan fans and fashion geeks.
Profile Image for Carolynne.
813 reviews25 followers
January 5, 2012
Other more articulate reviewers than I have commented on the dazzling illustrations, the hidden story, and extensive research, but I want to look at the usefulness of this book. I fear that because of the alphabet book format that the people who will really enjoy this magnificent book (grown-up aficionados of English history) will never encounter it. (So thanks, Gundula, for recommending it!) It is likely to be added to elementary school libraries most of whose patrons aren't even thinking about world history yet. (Although my youngest son, after a trip to England when he was seven, memorized the names of all the English Kings and Queens since William the Conqueror. Thirty years later he can still name them.) Only 29 Worldcat libraries list it, but of course most school libraries are not on Worldcat. It deserves wider exposure!

The illustrations are exact in (I suspect) every detail, with different patterned fabrics for nearly every glorious costume, even the one worn by the horse Elizabeth I rides on the cover. Students of historical costume will find much to discover. Different aspects of the Queen's life are suggested, but none are described in enough detail to satisfy anyone curious enough to pick up the book, so I am guessing it will be used mainly for the illustrations and not for the text. My one quibble is that most of the Queen's courtiers look alike in the drawings, and there are surely enough portraits available of such significant personages that the illustrator could have used them for models and provided a little more variation.
Profile Image for Dolly.
Author 1 book643 followers
February 4, 2020
This is such an impressive book - the gorgeous illustrations, the rhyming narrative and the short paragraphs of information about Queen Elizabeth I combine for a wonderful introduction to Elizabethan England.

We all learned a lot about the Queen and her preferences, her personality, and the way she interacted with the people. We also learned about the danger she faced, and the treasonous plot woven into the story adds drama and intrigue.

Overall, we found this to be a wonderful story, and I love that we discovered an alphabet book that entertained and informed us. This is no baby book! We really enjoyed reading this book together.

This book was selected as one of the books for the October 2013 - Alphabet books discussion at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads.
Profile Image for Michael Fitzgerald.
Author 1 book48 followers
March 11, 2015
A bit overly kind to Good Queen Bess, particularly in the account of her involvement in Protestant/Catholic disputes.

And again, the amazing Bagram Ibatoulline shows himself thoroughly incapable of drawing a simple flute being played correctly. Come on! Get with it!
Profile Image for Christina Baehr.
231 reviews51 followers
October 15, 2016
Jaw-droppingly gorgeous, rich, informative, and entertaining. Just find it and buy it. This instantly became one of our family's all time favourite picture books.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
364 reviews5 followers
October 25, 2021
Beautiful illustrations, interesting facts about Queen Elizabeth’s reign.
Profile Image for ♥♣Mary♦♠ If She So Pleases.
1,307 reviews5 followers
April 13, 2016
I recommend this book to all. I learned some interesting facts about Queen Elizabeth. =D

To later remember; every summer she took a holiday known as the royal progress, Thomasina was Elizabeth's dwarf fool or jester for many years, Elizabeth played virginals and the lute. "A design of entwined red and white roses was popular in tributes to the queen." The poem 'The Faerie Queen' was published in 1596 and was written by Sir Edmund Spenser for Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth sometimes stayed at nobles' mansions like palaces when on the progress, which were very thought out and planned out, although not always going to plan. She always wanted to be entertained with music, theater, jousting, hunting, etc. "Most country homes had at least modest vegetable and herb gardens, and perhaps a few fruit trees. Orchards were common at great houses. In the milder climate of southern England, apples, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, and pears grew in abundance. Fruits were eaten fresh from the harvest, pressed into cider, preserved as jams and jellies, and baked into tarts and cakes." She traveled back through the "greatest highway in England" known as "The Thames" River. Her palaces of Hampton Court Whitehall, Greenwich, and Richmond were all conveniently situated on the river.

A really beautiful book, with beautiful illustrations and beautiful wording.
Profile Image for Jess.
377 reviews
January 24, 2012
The illustrations are what make this book. As well as telling a wordless story, they present an array of pictures that illustrates the action and creates the beautiful setting of the English Countryside. The patterns on the dresses and coats are digital added to the paintings. You have to look close at some of them or miss the beautiful details and craftsmanship.

A great educational picture book that is as delightful to read as it is to look at.

A few of my favorite words as follows R- is for Roses (The roses of Lancaster and York) X- is for Xystus (A landscape architectural term) Y- is for Yeoman (a guard), and Z- is for Zounds!

Read my full review at my blog: The Non Fiction Manifesto: http://non-fic-manifesto.blogspot.com...
Profile Image for Jenny.
572 reviews4 followers
October 22, 2013
I love history, so this bit of historical fiction was right up my alley. Seen only as an alphabet book for kids it might not rate as high with me as the letters weren't always easy to pick out and the explanations were quite a bit over younger kids' heads. The illustrations are very detailed and enjoyable as they include fun scenes at which children can look. My oldest, 9, said it was a cool book, and when I can get any actual non-fiction into her I am pleased as she is a fantasy junkie. The informational part of each page was above the younger kids, but, like I said, the illustrations will attract them.
Grade Level: 6.0
822 reviews24 followers
January 2, 2014
So beautiful to look at! Bagram Ibatoulline once again elevates a picture book, the perfect thing for an illustrator to do. I believe that his books are the most lovely currently being published. But this is not to belittle the suthor, as the text would do well as related to Elizabethan England Social Studies. I'm not sure that any of my 4th grade readers would select it from the classroom library and read it on their own, but I think they will read it with an appropriate introduction. I will add it to my collection of ABC books and will surely use it in the classroom at some point. I will peek at the illustrations inbetween.
Profile Image for Alice.
4,195 reviews34 followers
July 21, 2014
This book was recommended by a patron so I decided we needed to order it. Being an Anglophile I totally enjoyed the history- and the artwork.

This book can be read 3 ways. 1) As just an alphabet book for kindergarten children 2) As a history book for older elementary school kids or both!

The pictures are very intricate and detailed.

It is a little long and a lot of facts so as a children's book, I can't give it a 5 stars. As a Late Middle School Historical Non-Fiction I can give it a higher rating.
Profile Image for Set.
1,556 reviews
April 25, 2016
Very informative and enjoyable read full of little tidbits of queen Elizabeth's very expensive vacations as she pats the heads of her subjects. God Bless America! And everyone knows that the only reason the king, queen and their entourage went to other nobles houses for holiday during the summer was because the waste pits had to be cleaned and the stench must have been insufferable. So, while the queen was going to lavish parties, some unfortunate souls did their yearly duty of hauling and cleaning the high towers full of human feces.
Profile Image for Shelli.
4,991 reviews41 followers
June 1, 2015
This is a beautifully written non-fiction alphabet picture book about Queen Elizabeth I. Unfortunately, this titles worth maybe over looked as a “little kids” or “babies book” because its information is written in an alphabetical format; this would be a mistake. While this would not be a perfect solitary source of information about Elizabeth I, students who have a base knowledge about her will enjoy and benefit from this read.
23 reviews
April 17, 2010
I LOVE a gorgeously illustrated book...this one qualifies, without a doubt. Tells stories of the Queen's progresses, or journeys, throughout the English countryside. THIS is the way our kids need to learn history! Well-written stories (and when you can throw in lovely illustrations, all the better).
Profile Image for Sarah .
1,140 reviews19 followers
February 7, 2011
This is my second choice title for depicting Shakespeare's England. It is actually pretty easy read, with an alphabet format and boxes with additional information, but it is mostly about the countryside, without much about London, where Shakespeare was most of the time.
Profile Image for Susan.
40 reviews
October 5, 2012
Nice celebration of Elizabeth, and an interesting walk with her on countryside travels. Both an illustrated alphabet and a collection of facts about Elizabeth and her times. Artwork provides a lot of historical interest and detailed textile samples but is generally underwhelming.
Profile Image for Lisa Rathbun.
633 reviews37 followers
April 17, 2016
Beautifully illustrated with lots of detail. A wonderful and unusual as well as historical addition to my ABC book collection.
Profile Image for LauraW.
750 reviews17 followers
September 29, 2013
This is a beautifully illustrated alphabet book about Queen Elizabeth. I am not a huge history buff, but this is actually quite interesting for someone who likes her history in small doses.
Profile Image for Beverly.
5,115 reviews4 followers
October 3, 2013
Gorgeous, detailed period illustrations. Beautiful illuminated letters of the alphabet. Fascinating tidbits about Elizabeth and the period. Short, excellent quatrains for each letter of the alphabet.
Profile Image for Heather.
554 reviews17 followers
March 17, 2017
Interesting look into a part of Queen Elizabeth's life: her progresses. Her progress was a yearly vacation she took around the country, visiting her subjects and enjoying herself.
Profile Image for SaraKat.
1,581 reviews32 followers
April 7, 2019
A great introduction for children to the life and work of Queen Elizabeth I of England. The pictures are very detailed and there is a lot to see on each page. Each letter has a short rhyme and then a longer detailed paragraph about a part of Queen Elizabeth's life. This works to make the book more useful for different ages. Younger children can listen to the rhymes and look at the pictures and then as they age, the informational portions can be added in. This book gives the basics about the Queen and how she helped her country become prosperous and how she was kind to the servants and sometimes abrupt with her nobles. She is a strong female role model and there were other strong women mentioned who save the Queen from an assassination attempt. The Queen was warned by her guards to stay away from the peasants because they couldn't protect her well in the crowds. I loved her response.

I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear.

The Queen's progress seems like a costly vacation and I like how the end of the book makes it clear that the Queen's job was difficult and emotionally draining and her yearly travels through the kingdom gave her good memories and allowed her to see the "fruits of her labor" and really gave her a chance to recharge and remember why she had to be a good Queen. That is a good mindset.
Profile Image for Susan Webb.
Author 1 book1 follower
April 2, 2022
A fascinating mix of rhyming alphabet stanzas, with additional text on each page explaining the annual progress (vacation) of Queen Elizabeth I and tidbits about her reign. Even though this is an alphabet book for children 4-8 (as noted on the book), I think it is a bit advanced for that age group. The story uses advanced vocabulary, which some young readers might find daunting. However, the masterful illustrations are sure to capture young imaginations. English folk in Queen's Elizabeth's court are shown in fun and frolic, treachery and bravery. Each illustration is rendered in rich reds, golds, and browns with magnificent renderings of royal fabrics, jewels, and crowns. The historical tidbits in this book are not as in-depth as another picture book on Elizabeth I, "Good Queen Bess," however, this author did a wonderful job of showing Elizabeth I on her royal progress and the people and activities she encountered along the way.
Profile Image for Felicia.
200 reviews17 followers
June 6, 2018
This is an alphabet book, and so much more.

The illustrations are simply gorgeous. The alphabet portion, primarily couplet rhymes, is light and simple. But with each there are also full descriptions of the historical meanings and events being described and shown.

I read this to my kids as part of Women's History month.
857 reviews1 follower
October 20, 2021
Incredible illustrations! I'm pleased the letter X was an actual word and not something like "eXtra" of "eXciting." I also learned a new word: xystus.

It's hard to believe the author had originally written a 1000+ page novel and then turned it into this!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews

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