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Sondok: Princess of the Moon and Stars (Royal Diaries) Hardcover – June 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Lexile Measure: 950L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc. (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439165865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439165860
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-Set in ancient Silla, part of modern-day South Korea, this diary follows the life of Princess Sondok. Although little is known about the subject's childhood, Holman has written a discerning novel to reflect what life may have been like for the princess who became the first ruling Queen of Silla in A.D. 632. When the book opens, the protagonist has just become guardian of the ancestor jar. She writes notes to her dead grandmother, describing activities in the royal court or asking advice. These are the diary entries. What is known about Queen Sondok's reign is that Buddhism flourished, and that she built the oldest standing astronomical observatory in Asia. Thus, Holman has created an intelligent, spiritual princess with a passion for astronomy. The powerful influence of China and Confucianism in Silla is revealed through the fictitious character of Lin Fang, a Chinese Ambassador who becomes Sondok's teacher. She feels torn between the ancient, feminine practice of shamanism, the contemporary ideas of Buddhism, and the infiltrating authority of Confucianism in her country but she learns to take what is useful from each practice to find a balance for herself and the country she will soon reign. A well-written story that will inspire young readers to learn more about other wise women from Asia.
Be Astengo, Alachua County Library, Gainesville, FL
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Meaghan on August 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In ancient Asia, females, as a general rule, were not allowed to rule. They could only be the wives of kings and emperors. However, in Silla in 595, it's a girl who is heir apparent to the throne of Silla (now called South Korea). Fourteen-year-old Sondok has no brothers and her mother is too old to have any more children. Her father's brothers are all dead and they didn't have any sons either. Thus, it is she who must inherit the throne.
Sondok thinks she's up to the job. She comes across as forthright and intelligent as she writes in her diary. She's especially fascinated by astronomy, and displays her skill at it by correctly predicting an eclipse. Unfortunately this earns her the wrath of the Chinese ambassador, also an astronomer, who predicted the wrong date. "Astronomy is not for women," Lin Fang says. "Go do something female like look after silkworms." Sondok tries to win him over, but he is unmoved. Worse yet, her father agrees with the ambassador and forbids his daughter to study the moon and stars!
This is the principal conflict in this narrative. There are some others: Sondok's father casts aside his old wife and takes a new, younger one whom he hopes will bear him a son. Sondok is in love with someone whom she cannot marry, as he is below her station, and when he goes off to be a Buddhist monk she wonders if she'll ever see him again. She wonders a lot about religions: Korean Buddhism vs. Chinese Confucianism.
Sondok: Princess of the Moon and Stars is one of my favorite books in the royal diaries, entertaining and quite historically accurate. I'd recommend it to young girls nine and up, especially those interested in Korean culture and astronomy.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This Book is about Sondok,Princess of Silla(present day South Korea). Sondok has a lot of troubles for a 14 year old girl.Her mother becomes a nun and leaves her because she failed to produce a male heir. Sondok has a dream to build a observetory. But because of her gender, it is forbidden. Oh,and she is also the future Queen of Silla. Sondok was the first Queen to rule in her own right.
If you like this book I Guarantee you will like Lady of Ch'iao Kuo, Warrior of the South, Southern China, 531 A.D.
This book is about Princess Red Bird. She is 16 years old. She is Princess of The Hesian People in southern China.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a book about a 14 year old Korean princess who, because of her mothers failure to bear a son, is the heir to her kingdom's throne. Sondok has a dream of building a great stargazing tower for she has a love of astronamy, although, because of her gender her father forbids her to measure or calculate the stars. From the haughty Chinese Lord Lin Fang who comes to teach her and her sisters the wisdom of Confucsism to her fear of the spirit possesed mudangs, this book is filled with adventure and the thoughts of a girl who is easy to relate to. This is a fabulous book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book was a pleasant surprise for me, a Korean female looking for books in English for little cousins. Queen Sondok has been the most famous & beloved queen to Korean children, especially to girls, like the amalgam of Joan of Arc and Queen Elisabeth the first.
She was the first princess who came to the throne in whole Korean history, and her succession was possible due to the special succession law of ancient Shilla dynasty which put a higher value on the pure royal birth than the genders of heirs. There was no male heir whose both parents were royal then, so Sondok was raised as the heir apparent with formidable duty to answer to love and hope of her own parents and her people in the time of endless wars and diplomatic intrigues. And she did more.
Until this book, I always imagined her as a grown-up, like Athena with full armors springing from Zeus's head, partly because of all stories in historical texts such as the famous her 3 prophecies and the anecdote of Mun-Hee(a lady saved by Sondok from burning at stake) showing her silent bravery, deep understanding of human nature, and somewhat supernatural, shman-like foresight, all three of them which were necessary for ancient rulers.
Holman portrayed her as a little princess rather than a queen who ruled successfully her kingdom for 15 years in a very turbulent time with love of arts and intelligence and deep Buddhistic faith. And it was an interesting move. Even young readers without any knowledge of Korea may enjoy it. Thank you Holman for saving the difficulties of finding an easy and good book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "mrspuget" on June 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is about Princess Sondok. Because her mother wasn't able to bore a son, Sondok was chosen as heir to the throne. The young princess dreams of building an astronomical tower, but her father refuses for she is a girl. She tries to befriend the arrogant Chinese ambassador, Lord Lin Fang, but he finds it impossible and strange for a woman to rule in her own right. While Lin Fang stays, he is asked to teach Sondok and her sisters about Confucianism when they are Buddhist. A problem brews so she decides to go to a mudang, a shaman, as her last resort.
I just finished this book a few hours ago. I thought it was terrific! Since I am Korean, I was really eager to get it and read through its pages. The problem is, there's a bit of wrong information in there. Like the part about the hwarangs practicing Tae Kwon Do (which is pronounced tek-kwon-do, BTW). Hwarangs practiced Um Yang Kwon!!!!! Plus, Tae Kwon Do wasn't even made then!! It was born hundreds of years later! And chima? It's a dress. The ladies of the court wore hanboks! Well, at least I was able to read the Korean correctly. Anyway, even if it had a bit of wrong info, the story was great!
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