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The Royal Diaries: Jahanara, Princess Of Princesses: India, 1627 (The Royal Diaries) Hardcover – September 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

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Gr. 4-8. Steeped in period detail and related with immediacy by an intelligent, sensitive, 14-year-old princess, this entry in the Royal Diaries series transports readers to seventeenth-century India during the Moghul Dynasty. Jahanara, favorite daughter of Emperor Shah Jahan and the most beloved of his four wives, writes about family jealousies, court intrigues, and war strategies, as well as the extravagant lifestyle of her royal family, who live in a setting where wall murals of flowers crafted in gemstones glitter by lamplight as though in bloom. Readers encounter historical figures, such as Empress Mumtaz Mahal, for whom the Taj Mahal was built, as well as fictional characters introduced to explore the practices of the times--among them, the gardener, whose eyes were stitched closed as punishment for spying. The language seems true to the thoughts and sensitivities of a young teen, and Lasky's meticulous research is evident throughout the journal, which references issues such as religious tolerance, the impact of Islamic extremism, and women's efforts to gain respect--issues that are as vital today as they were during Jahanara's life. Ellen Mandel
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Lexile Measure: 810L (What's this?)
  • Series: Royal Diaries
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc. (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439223504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439223508
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hi Readers! Thanks for coming by my author page. I've written all sorts of books - from fantasy about animals to books about science. One of my favorite animal fantasy series, Guardians of Ga'Hoole, is a major motion picture. I liked writing about Ga'Hoole so much that I decided to revisit that world in a different series, Wolves of the Beyond. I've recently added a new Guardians book: The Rise of A Legend, the story of Ezylryb, the great sage of the Ga'Hoole Tree. Another new book just came out, the first in the Horses of the Dawn series. I think of it as an equine retelling of the Spanish conquest of the New World. Visit my website, for the latest news. All my best, Kathryn

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Jahanara princess of princesses: Book Review
By: Kathryn Lasky
I think the author did a very good job writing this book. She never let the reader get confused in reading the story. I never felt that I wasn't the character. Everything the character felt, I felt. She always explained and described everything that was happening very well. Everything was told step by step.
This fictional biography is based on the Indian princess of princesses, Jahanara who lived in 1627. It takes you through four years of her life. The story begins when they are prisoners under an evil woman, Nur Mahal, who has Jahanara's two brothers separated from them. Then Jahanara's father tricks everybody and regains the throne and Jahanara's family is free. Jahanara then travels and gets the nicest apartments along with jewels as big as her big toe; being her father's favorite. But she is still not free.
This book is also a mystery. When Nur Mahal finally let's the two brothers go, they return normal, except one. He has changed very much; he acts odd and is very, very pious. Jahanara also gets very confused sometimes for she does not know what is going on because nobody tells her. Therefore she has to find out for herself.
This book's strengths are that it captures the reader. Once you start reading it, you cannot stop. When I had to stop, I felt as though I was watching a show on T.V. but I had to miss it because I was going somewhere. The author does a good job keeping you hooked to the story. You can picture what was going on, as if it were a real show.
This book has only one weakness. The author uses some Indian words that you can't figure out. So you have to look at the glossary at the end of the book. This can interrupt your focus.
I definitely recommend this book to all readers. It is full of adventure, but mostly mystery. It will have you keep on asking, "What is going to happen next?" This is a "have to read book."
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Meaghan on August 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I thought Kathryn Lasky was going great with Marie Antoinette and Mary of Scots, but with Jahanara she's gotten even better. I'd never even heard of this seventeenth-century Indian princess before I read this book, but now I want to know more about her. And that's the ultimate goal for writers of historical fiction, isn't it?
Jahanara, despite being the highest-ranking princess in the Indian royal family and owning jewels the size of robin's eggs, leads a pretty dull life. She is almost never permitted to venture outside the harem where she lives with her younger siblings and her father's many wives. And when she does leave, she must wear a thick veil to conceal all of her features, as is customary with Muslim women. She worries constantly about her family. Her father is the emperor of India, but his stepmother Nur Mahal is constantly plotting against him to the point where he once has to fake his own death to escape her clutches.
Two of Jahanara's younger brothers, Dara and Aurangzeb, were taken political hostage by Nur Mahal and she worried constantly for their safety. Then they returned, Aurangzeb was not the same person who had left. He had not only become a militant Islamic who hated all things that were not Muslim (as compared to Jahanara and Dara who snuck food to eat during Ramadan), he was also greedy and power-hungry. Though he had two older brothers, Aurangzeb was determined to become emperor and Jahanara was sure he would kill for the privilege. Thus the royal court of India swirled with intrigue, even behind the screens of the harem.
I found this to be very interesting book, especially in the descriptions of courtly dress and manner. I had only two small problems with it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I am an Indian girl from San Jose, California. I read 3 different royal diaries and put all the ones I did not on hold in the library. I never knew much about the Mogul Dynasty even though I am Indian. I am Hindu, and I know much more about the festivals we celebrate, and the gods. I heard about Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal when I was about 8. I never heard that they had children. This book also made me want to learn more about the Mogul Dynasty (even though we won't be studying it till mid-January). My friend, also in my class saw me reading that book so much, that I wouldn't play with her at recess, wanted me to loan the book to her. Something that confused me in this book was that Nur Mahal was Shah Jahan's stepmother and wasn't even related to Mumtaz Mahal until after Shah Jahan's marriage had the same last name and her. Usually, Indian women have the same last name as their husbands after marriage. Some women even change their last name to their husband's first name. So that fact confused me (So technically, her name should be Nur Jahan). Also, Jaytayu might be pronounced (Jay-taaa-u) for Americans. Really, its spelled Jatayu (Jaaa-thaaa-uuu). This book was very historical. Of Course, you can't make an author get everything correct, can you? I thank Katheryn Lasky for making me be more interested in my culture. Before, whenever my mom used to give me those lectures about my culture, I used say, " Stop! I can't take it anymore!". Now, I am like, "Oh! That is so cool! Thank you Katheryn Lasky!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By hiphopgirl_1000 on October 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
14-year-old Jahanara Begum Sahib might be the highest ranking princess of her royal family, thus the title Princess of Princesses, but her life is very dull. Her family are imprisoned by the "Snake" Nur Mahal, Jahanara's step-grandmother, and they are not permitted anywhere outside of their harem. However after a quick turn of events, in which her father even fakes his own death, Jahanara finds herself once again a princess and her father in power. However the curse of Nur Mahal, and her constant plotting is never far. However Jahanara soon realized that not all things would be the same again. Her brother Aurangzeb has been tranfered into a power-hungry radical Muslim boy and hates anything not Muslim, evening bending down so low as to poisen their father's 3rd wife who was Hindu. Jahanara begins to realize that Aurangzeb might do anything to become emperor, evening killing his two older brothers...
I had loved all of Kathryn Lasky's previous diaries, especially Elizabeth I Red Rose of the House of Tudor, which continues to be my favorite on out of all the Royal Diaries, so I had high expectations for this book. Some of those expectations were met, like always Lasky described very well the court life of India. Unfortunately I felt this book was really lacking a center plot. Too many things were going on and Lasky never really established a plot. It is still a very good book about India though.
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