The popularity of children’s books written in the style of a diary has exploded in recent years. Tom Gates, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries are just a few series which seem to appeal to so many children regardless of age or gender. I’m not too keen on this new style if I’m honest. I think that the pictures and reduced number of words on a page is what is most appealing, rather than the quality of the story. Nevertheless, I thought I would read an alternative diary written for children to see what else this genre has to offer.
I have been meaning to read a book from the My Story series since I picked up the box set at a boot fair last year. Recently, I have read a few adult books based in the Tudor period and so I thought that I would fuel my love for this time in history by reading Anne Boleyn and Me from this set.
Within this diary I enjoyed the snippets of Elinor’s daily life as a lady in waiting for Anne Boleyn and felt very smug when I knew the famous people and events that she talked about. I found myself going back to some of my non-fiction books to recap timelines of events and to remind myself of what else was going on during this time. In doing so I found, due to the nature of the short daily passages, that there often wasn’t much of a storyline around Elinor. In many ways it felt just like a padded out timeline. I also though that despite being a young girl herself, Elinor was living within the expectations of a girl of her time -as a woman with the sole ambition to get married. In this grown up world of Elinor’s, Anne Boleyn was not liked very much and was famously described in unkind ways as she was seen as taking King Henry VIII away from his wife, Catherine of Aragon. These descriptions did make me feel a bit uncomfortable when considering the target audience for these books.
Would I recommend this particular book? Well, I spoke to some girls in year 6 and I was
struck by their maturity and knowledge. Some had watched a recent programme on Henry VIII’s wives and understood the cultural expectations of the time and the ways in which Anne Boleyn was described. So I guess I would recommend it to children who are particularly interested in the time period, but would be hesitant to recommend it to all children.
What about the rest of the My Story series? I’ve got Katharine on the case reading the diary set on the Titanic. She says she’s enjoying it so far and that she’ll let me know her thoughts when she’s finished.