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Lady of Palenque: Flower of Bacal, Mesoamerica, A.D. 749 (The Royal Diaries) Hardcover – April 1, 2004

36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6–ShahnaK'in Yaxchel Pacal, "Princess Green Jay on the Wall," is the daughter of King Hanaab Pacal of Lakamha City (now Palenque). She will become a "xoc," or reader and accountant, to her royal husband, as her mother was before her. Princess Green Jay is betrothed to K'ak Yipyaj Chan K'awil, "King Fire Keeper," in Xukpi (modern Copan). This alliance allows the author to discuss the varying terrains and political situations in Mesoamerica in A.D. 749, as Princess Green Jay and her entourage travel across the Mayan empire to her new home. However, the protagonist's diary entries provide only the briefest look into this culture and history; and many things, such as their intricate dating system, go unexplained. Also, because the characters are called by many names and parts of names, it's difficult to find a specific entry in the glossary, and there are no pronunciation guides.–Lynda S. Poling, Long Beach Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-9. This entry in the Royal Diaries series takes readers to 749 C.E. Mesoamerica. Thirteen-year-old princess ShahnaK'in Yaxchel Pacal is chosen to marry the King of Xuchpi. First, though, the spoiled princess faces a long journey to her new home, which, as it turns out, brings her face to face with everything from natural disasters to human enemies. The text is dense, and Kirwan's descriptive prose has an archaic flavor; readers may struggle with the vocabulary and transliterated names (the appended glossary lacks pronunciations). What readers will like best is ShahnaK'in herself, an animated, independent character, whose commentary incorporates interesting details of Mayan culture (including descriptions of shrunken heads and body piercing that may make some readers shudder) as well as a sense of universal issues--from homesickness to developing self-reliance. Supporting materials include historical background, a family tree, and notes; illustrative material was not available in the galley. Shelle Rosenfeld
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1070L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439409713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439409711
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #378,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I started this book way back in March upon its release, and I wasn't entirely anticipating reading it after I heard that it wasn't that great. But I decided to give it a try and it didn't end well, I didn't get to page 40 before I gave up. I didn't pick the book up again until late June when I was trying to catch up on all the books I own that I haven't read. And I'm glad I picked this one up again. Sure, I stopped again around page 100 but I finally finished the book last night after deciding 5 months was enough...I have to finish this book.
The book is actually very well done. Unlike the other Royal Diaries, the writing really is authentic to the Mayan era it is set in. In books such as Weetamoo and Sondok, it is obvious the author is trying to re-construct the writing style of the character's culture & time, but in Lady of Palenque, the writing really is convincing. The entire book reads lyrically and poetically and the culture of the Maya is deeply rooted in the Lady's words. This can be both a good and a bad thing. While it makes the book seem more real and more like it would be an account of the time, it must be kept in mind that middle school kids are the people reading these books. And your average middle schooler isn't a Mayan scholar, so most of the references and cultural items in this book are going to be unfamiliar and will confuse the reader for there are whole paragraphs that center on references to Mayan culture, forcing the reader to re-read the paragraph over and over again to try and put the Lady's words into today's understanding.
I think something that does bother some people is the fact that the author keeps switching from authentic Mayan names to English translations.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on August 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book was very interesting and exciting. I really enjoyed the believable characters. It is the story of the main character's journey through the jungles of Mesoamerica. If you like historical fiction, I recommend this book. I love the Royal Diaries Series and this book is a good addition.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I found Princess Green Jay on the Wall to be an interesting and courageous girl who speaks truthfully about her worries about leaving home and meeting her future husband King Fire Keeper, the Holy Cornstalk Lord of Xukpi. I disagree with the comments that this story reads like a history book. This story reads like poetry! The discriptions are incredibly realistic. I could see this story as I read it which is great because the Mayan culture is so hard to imagine. Also, the book is not boring, there is plenty of action; enemies and alligators, boat wrecks, and deaths. The hardest thing about reading it is keeping track of the names which are long and might sound ridiculous to some people, but, this is a story about a very different culture, place and time. I wish there were more pictures of Mayan art at the back of the book.
I encourage readers to try this beautiful book. I think the author is really smart. I learned alot about Mayan culture and now I want to learn more.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I love this series, I love every book in it, I own every book in it, and I read them over...and over...and over. But I may never pick this book up again. I have yet even to finish it. I CAN'T finish it. The culture and the history and informational background of this book is great and very original. But my Social Studies textbook reads the same as this book does. I can't keep my attention on this book for more than a page. Honestly, there is no feeling to this book. If I were King Fire Keeper, I'd hang myself for having to marry a wife like Lady of Palenque. (...) This isn't a diary it's like a biography. And a bad one at that. I enjoyed Kirwan's earlier attempt, Victoria, very much and I found it very good even though other fans were disappointed. But I wouldn't recommend this book at all. The writing is bland, your focus will wary, and entries go on and on about NOTHING. I remember one entry where there was a paragraph devoted to the description of a bridge. Who cares. And you'll find that although Kirwan makes the writing very Mayan and very authentic, I don't think she remembers that this is a book for 10 year olds. It makes no sense. Unless you're a nut about Mayan culture this diary will honestly not make any sense to you most of the time. Not even the glossary can help you after the first few entries. Don't waste almost 11 dollars on this book unless you collect the entire series. Otherwise, get it from the library...if you dare.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By hiphopgirl_1000 on October 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
ShahnaK'in Yaxchel Pacal, "Princess Green Jay on the Wall," is 13 years old and her father King Hanaab Pacal of Lakamha, modern day Palenque, has just betrothed her to K'ak Yipyaj Chan K'awil, "King Fire Keeper, the King of allie Xukpi. When the diary begins, Green Jay is preparing to make the long journey to Xukpi to meet the husband she has never met. Green Jay is sad because she knows that the long journey from Lakamha to Xukpi will likely mean that she will never return home. Her journey will be a treachrous one, as 749 Mesoamerica is not a peaceful time in Mayan history. Neighboring tribes are not on good terms with Lakamha and anything can happen. First her entourage of guardians and soldiers travel to Mutal, a allie of Lakahma where they rest for a few days. We get to see glimpses of the Mayan culture through their celebration. As the journey brings her more closer to Xukpi, Green Jay's anticipation of what her husband is like grows until the moment they finally meet.

This book is not as bad as some of the review here have portrayed it to be. I found it to have an okay storyline, though my interest did wane at some points and I had a hard time finishing the book. The names were quite hard to keep straight since they were so long and complicated. I had to check back to the glossory every few seconds to remind myself of who is who. I do believe this is the weakest Royal Diary so far but if you have some extra time on a boring day, this book might not be a bad read.
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