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Galen: My Life in Imperial Rome Hardcover – October 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 6
  • Series: Ancient World Journals
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Silver Whistle (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152165355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152165352
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,196,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ably balancing fact and fiction, Moss (the Amelia's Notebook and Young American Voices series) uses her signature notebook-style jottings and drawings to launch the Ancient World Journal series. The fresh, diverting first-person account of fictitious 12-year-old Galen, an aspiring artist, describes life as a slave in the palace of Emperor Augustus. As the tale opens, Galen is living with his artist father and brother as slaves of Pollio, a pompous equestrian who bought Galen's father to have him decorate his villa. A dramatic incident occurs while the emperor Augustus visits the villa on his way home to Rome: Pollio threatens to kill Galen's brother when the boy accidentally breaks a treasured wine cup. Augustus, outraged by Pollio's cruelty, buys the family and takes them to Rome with him. The chatty narrator recounts the goings-on in the busy household (which includes Augustus's cold wife, Livia, and his scheming, bullying grandson, Agrippa) while providing a clear, intriguing portrait of ancient Roman life, with such customs as gladiator fights, chariot races and celebrations of the Saturnalia and the feast of Liberalia. Moss's marginal notes in Galen's engaging voice plus his sketches offer insight about food, dress ("Togas are impossible to drape by yourself") and hairstyles. Moss caps this account with Galen's climactic discovery of a plot to poison Augustus so that Iullus Antonius can become emperor. Youngsters will be so drawn into the story that they might not realize how much history they're learning along the way. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-Galen, a 12-year-old Greek slave living in Augustus Caesar's household, is working alongside his father, a famous artist, decorating Livia's new house. When he discovers a plot to assassinate the emperor and his stepson Tiberius, he saves Augustus's life and gains freedom for himself and his family. Other than Galen, his family, and two others, all of the characters are historically accurate, as are many of the events. In the course of the story, youngsters will learn about slavery in Roman society, the members of the emperor's immediate family, how and where people lived, the foods they ate, chariot racing, gladiators, and more. The text looks handwritten and there are many small drawings (Galen's practice sketches), most of which have captions. One caveat: the varying size of the font may confuse readers. Sometimes the smaller font indicates a caption, sometimes the main text.
Lynda S. Poling, Long Beach Public Library, CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Marissa Moss has been telling stories and drawing pictures to go with them for as long as she can remember. She sent her first book to publishers when she was nine, but it wasn't very good and it never got published. She didn't try again until she was a grown-up, but since then she hasn't stopped.

The idea for the first Amelia's Notebook came from the notebook Moss kept when she was a kid. Amelia is a lot like her and the things that happen to Amelia really happened to Marissa (mostly).

Along with Amelia, Moss has created many characters and is especially drawn to history. Historical books allows her to imagine what it's like to be alive in a different place at a completely different time. And then there are the Max Disaster books which allow her to play with scientific experiments, inventions, and comic strips.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Caroline Lawrence on January 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Marissa Moss's book, written as if by a 12-year-old slave in the court of Augustus, is full of fascinating and accurate facts. The illustrations in particular are charming and very useful in painting a picture of daily life in 1st century Rome.
This book would be a great resource for any class studying the ancient Romans. It would also be a useful complement to my own series of children's historical novels (The Roman Mysteries) set in a slightly later period. A big thumbs-up!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Grandma TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This beautifully done little book is a happy find indeed for youngsters studying Rome. There's a wealth of factual information about Imperial Rome here, presented in a most engaging way. We couldn't put it down! Nice Bonus: Inside the back cover you will find the clearest, simplest, most concise explanation of Roman numerals I've ever run across.
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By Ruth Angela on February 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Has an interesting point of view. It seems to help children relate to this period of history. good graphics and images.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful By KPHTH on March 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Other than Galen, his family, and two others, all of the characters are historically accurate, as are many of the events."

Is this for real?! OTHER THAN THE MAIN HISTORICAL CHARACTER, this is accurate?! CAUTION: THIS is NOT a biography, as the tags claim. Do not misinform your children.

Galen, for those who don't know, was the leading Greek-Roman physician of the ancient world, not a slave of the Roman emperor who was involved in all this intrigue. I was so excited to see a book for children with a depiction of this monumental historical figure, that I clicked on the link right away. I don't think I could be more disappointed to find such a mishandling of history.

Misrepresenting history in movies, as deplorable as it is, has sadly become expected, as we increasingly sacrifice accurate history for entertainment sake. But in books? In children's books no less!? This is simply inexcusable. Being a father myself, I am always searching for children's books that will get my daughter interested in history, her Greek heritage, etc... To find yet another bastardization of this history is very depressing. I'm just not sure why this author chose the name Galen for this title... any other generic Roman name would do.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By livielou on April 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is a suggested supplement by the homeschooling curriculum that I use; I make it a habit to preview books before passing them along to my kids to read and I'm glad I did with this one. Just as a word of caution, three quarters through the book the following line appears, "I bit my lip. I needed some excuse to get up. 'Then may I go, er, well, to take a piss, sir?' I asked". This book could be read aloud and the previous line be omitted, however I chose not to use the book at all, there are other choices.
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