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Sondok: Princess of the Moon and Stars, Korea, A.D. 595

(The Royal Diaries)

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  2,553 ratings  ·  80 reviews
In the late seventh century, the land that we now call Korea was embroiled with political and religious conflicts. Three kingdoms (Silla, Koguryo, and Paekche) fought for supremacy, and three faiths (Shamanism, Buddhism, and Confucianism) battled for dominance. Princess Sondok, the eldest daughter of King Chinp-yong of Silla, must contemplate problems that few other 14-yea ...more
Hardcover, 187 pages
Published June 2002 by Scholastic
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,553 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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The latest in my series read-through project. This one was fine. Some parts were interesting, such as Sondok's family dynamic and some of her interest in constellations and astronomy, some parts were more on the boring side. Not bad, not great. I think I have more personal interest in tales set in Japan or China vs. Korea, so different strokes for different folks.
Carlyn Brody
Mar 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Sondok is one of the books from the Scholastics Royal Diaries range. I’ve been collecting the books for a couple of years now and you can see all my reviews here. The Scholastic Royal Diaries series are fictionalized diaries of real historical royal women. As the series is aimed at teenage girls, the books are set during the royal women’s adolescence. There’s some creative license to the dates and facts in the books so further research is required if you want to know the real story. For instance ...more
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Gr. 4 and up
Looking at my reviews in "cloud" form, I realized that most of my reviews are on fantasies and that is because it is one of my favorite genres. However, I know I need to be more inclusive, so I remembered that I had not reviewed any of the books from "The Royal Diaries" series and I picked this one up.

This book is narrated by young Sondok in messages she writes to her grandmother's spirit living in a sacred jar. Sondok's father is king and her mother has provided no male heir, so that means Son
May 07, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was just ok. I enjoyed it because I learned a little about ancient Korea, but the journal entries were confusing. If it weren’t for the historical info in the back go tie it together I would’ve been confused about a lot of it. Obviously sondok was an interesting person but I wish that the story written of her in this diary was more interesting. I learned about people in her life but the events were obviously fictitious and the places and things mentioned were so confusing. I wish I had ...more
Rachel Joy
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it
This is decidedly not how a fourteen year old girl thinks or writes, but maybe that's not the point of The Royal Diaries books.

Years ago my daughter collected all the books in this series and read them all. I borrowed this from her in order to fulfill some tasks on a couple of challenges, and out of respect for her I finished it. The book is filled with interesting historical facts about the people and the era they lived in, but it lacks any depth of feeling for the characters and their ordeals.
This was written as letters to her grandmother. So it was really weird how she would say things like, "grandmother, you remember how we do xyz cultural tradition," it was just so unnatural and weird. Then the author stopped doing that about a third of the way through the book, which almost makes it more weird I think. 🤷
Jul 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelsey Hanson
This story had one of the best "I told you so moments" I ever read. Princess Sondok was clearly trapped in a very tough position. She was obviously very intelligent, but because she was a girl she was constantly set aside even though her advise was good. The fact that she was able to have as much impact as she did was pretty impressive. I also found many of the Korean traditions interesting, especially the role of the ancestor jar with becomes her diary writing to her grandmother.
Angelique Sapone
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
All the Royal Diaries books portray these princess as trying to triump over their sex. This is a prime example of why your title doesn't totally matter...because you have a vagina. Sondok wasnt hearing any of it though...good for her.
Carmen lopez
Jan 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
i hated the way how they treated women back then other than that it was a great story.
Katrin von Martin
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read "The Royal Diaries" series a lot as a kid. They were my go to books and I often reread the few that I had over and over again, never becoming bored with them. Then I got older, discovered other books, and packed my "Royal Diaries" novels away to make room for new reading acquisitions. I recently got an itch to read some historical fiction. My (admittedly brief) foray into the adult examples of the genre left me disappointed...and then I remembered these books. Granted, they're meant for ...more
This was another Royal Diaries book that taught me a lot about an ancient culture, but ultimately left me feeling meh about it. It’s not that it’s a bad book - it’s not at all - it was just...okay.

Sondok struggling to be true to herself while also being what other people wanted of her is a problem I hold very dear to my heart. I’m so glad she finally got to build her astronomy platform and do what she loved, all the while proving women could be in fields of science. Her frustration felt very rel
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
I wish that this book had been written by an author of Korean descent, but it was published in 2002, which was a vastly different time to now. Sondok: Princess of the Moon and Stars is about fourteen year old Sondok who is her father's heir apparent. She has always taken an interest in astronomy and the reading of the heavens. The journal starts when she is given the jade container of her Grandmother. She is to fill it with rice and write out prayers and thus the narrative continues through. I f ...more
Nicole Gaudier
I think this would have worked better in more standard narrative.

It really liked it when I read it but i'm sure if I reread it now it'd be a bit problematic.

I remember thinking it was cool to see a different princess aka non European one but I didn't know how to express that.

I have to reread this series and give my adult post graduate degree perspective but what I remember liking was:
-the characters in this series were roughly my age when I read the books (YA)
-it gave you an idea of what lif
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: series
I loved these books as an adolescent, I collected them all, I read and re-read them. I went on to be a history major and librarian and I think that it is in no small part due to books like these that made history feel alive to young women in a way that many/most of the books at the time did not.
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good read that is especially encouraging to young girls who wish to pursue STEM careers. Seondeok was a lover of astronomy, traditionally a man's activity in her time. Holman writes well, too, and I was engaged in the entire book and could not wait to pick it up again.
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
The story of the royal princess of China. It was a fine story about a young girl who wrote about her life..
Myra Benedict
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: realist-fiction
The book itself was good and very informational about history, princess Sondok was very interesting.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I would 100% consider this a feminist book. Queen in her own right and the first woman to rule an Eastern Asian country. Not as quick of a read as the others but just as informative and fascinating!
Katie Fitzgerald
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

This book, which is part of the popular Royal Diaries series, focuses on a young Korean woman who will one day inherit her father's kingdom, despite the fact that only males have ruled in the past. Visitors from neighboring countries look down upon her father for this decision and upon Sondok herself for her "inappropriate" interest in reading the skies. Sondok expresses her feelings to her deceased grandmother by writing messages and slippin
Your Common House Bat
Like the other books in the Royal Diaries series, I like the way this book was formatted. It was a very quick read and I liked Sondok as a narrator. I think she was a strong female lead and watching her grow as a character was neat.
Ana Mardoll
Dec 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ana-reviewed
Sondak, Princess of the Moon / 0-439-16586-5

Possibly more than any other girl in the Royal Diary series, Sondok has to struggle daily with the sexism inherent in her culture and the culture around her. Although her father has named her his heir (in the absence of any male children), many of the surrounding countries are horrified at the notion and vow war and disaster should a woman ascend the throne. And Sondok's own father seems frustratingly ambivalent in his decision - valuing her for her wi
Carrie Slager
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-borrowed
Say what you want about The Royal Diaries, but I’ve just discovered another awesome female ruler that I never knew existed before. Sondok was the first woman in Eastern Asia to rule in her own right, having ascended the throne in 632 AD. The ridiculous amount of sexism Sondok chronicles in her writings to her dead Grandmother as a girl are a sort of precursor to what she would face when she took the throne.

But of course that doesn’t deter her and although it takes a while, Sondok realizes her tr
Was slow at first, but definitely picked up towards the middle. I can see why younger me was enchanted with these books-- older me is wondering yet again at how many white authors were writing characters of color for this series. Sheri Holman did do a fine job telling Sondok's story, but hopefully in the future Scholastic will seek out authors from the cultures they want to write about/market.

Sondok is an interesting figure, though the first half of her story is basically "I want to study the st
Sarah Crawford
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a book in The Royal Diaries series and takes place in Korea, 595 A.D, about 900 years before Columbus "discovered" North America.

Sondok is a Princess due to inherit a throne since her father did not have any sons. This would make her the first female to be an actual ruler in the area, and, as such, she is warned that other countries probably won't respect her country since it would have a female ruler.

She is a very intelligent girl and her passion in life is astronomy, but that does not
Apr 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book is written as a diary by a young Sondok, soon to be first Queen of Silla Korea, A.D. 595. Even though Sondok is heir to the throne, her father the King of Silla kingdom disapproves of her study of astronomy, believing that such academic endeavors are not suitable for females. Sondok struggles with this personally, as well as with the discordances between the Buddhist beliefs of her kingdom, the Shamanistic practices of the older generations, and the growing Confucian influence from her ...more
Daisy Paquet
Sep 03, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm not sure how I feel about this book.
For one thing, it mainly talked about their religion.... Which was definitely not remotely close to Christianity. The girl was whiny. The slight hint of romance wasn't enough to explain her reaction when something happened to her guy. There wasn't much interaction with her sisters. The ending was obviously rushed through, and was actually a history book-esque paragraph of information. I got the feeling that this is meant to be an educational book- which is
Cora Snow
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels

Positive: A childhood favourite.

May 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Sondok was one of the most famous Queens of the Sillia Kingdom in what is present day south-east Korea.

Why I picked it up: Princess series with a book about a Korean princess seemed like the perfect way for me to learn more history and add another book to my list of recommends.

Why I finished it: Holman did a good job introducing the culture while keeping the story flowing. I was excited to learn Korean history the easy way until I got to the end and learned that only three events had been record
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: royal-diaries
The facts presented in this book match up to what I learned about the Three Kingdoms period and Unified Silla in my East Asian Civilizations course. Some spellings were alternative to ones I saw more in class, though still correct. Only noticed one typo in the historical note. Holman did a good job explaining Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shamanism. I didn’t like how she contrasted the three specifically to Christianity, as the same could be said for other religions. Was surprised that the glossar ...more
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Sheri Holman graduated from The College of William and Mary in 1988, mastering in Theatre. From there, she became an assistant to a literary agent. In that time, she began to write her first novel, A Stolen Tongue. It was published in 1996. She then went on to write "The Dress Lodger," which was published in 1999. Sheri Holman also wrote "Sondok, Princess of the Moon and Stars," which was publishe ...more

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