Lasky, Kathryn. The Royal Diaries: Mary, Queen of Scots, Queen Without A Country.
New York: Scholastic Inc., 2002.
Type of Book: Historical Fiction
Grade Level: This book is most suitable for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade levels.
Book Thesis and Supporting Points:
Thesis: Even though Mary Seton became Queen when she was just a baby, she had to prove to herself and others that she truly had the capability to be the Queen of Scotland.
When it was discovered that Lord Arran, the Governor of the Estates of Scotland, was pilfering money for himself, Mary had to discharge him of these duties at the age of 12.
She is given her own individual household to be in charge of while living in France. For her household, she requests things from Scotland, like the bagpipe players, to remind her of her homeland.
Signore Marcellini was trying to seduce Mary Fleming against her will. In response, Mary Seton had him summarily dismissed after plotting with the other four Mary’s on a plan to catch him in the act since he was a favorite of Queen Catherine.
Even though she despised Queen Catherine, before Mary’s First Communion, she asked Queen Catherine to stand next to her during the ceremony, showing that her selfishness is gone and that she was ready to become Mary, Queen of Scots.
Plot Summary: Being the Queen of Scotland can be hard, but living in another country while trying to rule Scotland may seem impossible. With no one to confine her deepest thoughts and miles away from her mother, Mary Seton begins to write in her diary given to her for her 11th birthday.
The lesson of trusting others.
Self-examination as one grows older.
Learning about love.
Acceptance of others who may be different.
Evaluation of How Concepts are Met:
Throughout most of the novel, Mary keeps her diary to herself. After suspecting that someone has been looking through her writing desk, she finally confides to Mary Beaton about the diary and also the letters from her mother. Her mother would send two sets of letters, one real and one false, so that she may show the false ones to her uncles if they had any suspicion or questions.
Mary was only an infant when she was named Queen of Scotland. Now at 11 years old, she is starting to have to make decisions like an older Queen would make. The diary helps to record Mary’s feelings and thoughts as she grows older and gets closer to her First Communion. She realizes that sometimes she can be immature about the way she acts or feels towards Queen Catherine and tries to better herself as a person when she realizes that she is acting in a negative matter.
Mary has a strong love for her country. When her mother sends her the handkerchief with the flowers that smell like Scotland, she carries it everywhere with her. For her personal household, she orders bagpipes to be played. The alchemist also creates a perfume especially for Queen Mary from the flowers of Scotland.
Even though Mary does not care much for Queen Catherine, eventually she has to come to terms that Queen Catherine will one day be her mother-in-law. She tries throughout the novel to be nicer to Queen Catherine as a way of accepting her. She even tells the four Mary’s to not speak of Queen Catherine in a bad manner. It isn’t until the end of the novel when Mary finally accepts Queen Catherine completely by asking her to stand next to her during First Communion.
Author’s Tone, Point of View, and Mood:
Tone: The tone is very emotional. After all, it is being “written” by an eleven-year-old girl. There are times where Mary is upset and just by the words that are used, you can feel the emotion of anger. Whenever Mary mentions Scotland, the tone becomes more solemn showing Mary is saddened by the thought of her homeland and not being able to be there with her mother.
Point of View: The whole story is written from Mary Seton, the Queen of Scotland’s perceptive. There are times where Mary may quote what someone else says, but it is still the way that she views that person and how they said it that gets written down in her diary.
Mood: The mood is like a roller coaster. If Mary is having a bad day, then the mood of the story changes to reflect this. On the other hand, if something wonderful happened, the story becomes happy as well. Whenever Mary got to see Diane, her mood was happy and the story reflected this.
Three Possible Uses of the Book in the Classroom:
Students can use this story as a guideline in creating their own imaginary diaries.
This story can be used to learn more about the European leaders during the 1550s.
Students can use this story to learn about the importance of writing their feelings as a way of expression.
Guiding Questions for Discussion:
In what ways did Mary show her ability to be a Queen?
Do you think Mary was ready to be Queen of Scotland? Why or why not?
How would you feel if your parents chose your husband or wife when you were younger?
How would the story be different if Mary stayed in Scotland with her mother?
There was a rumor that Queen Catherine used to poison some of her subjects. Based on what we have read, do you believe this rumor? Why or why not?
What would you do if you were the King or Queen of Scotland?
Personal Comments: The layout of the book was different than most books I have read. It was interesting reading it in the diary form and I actually thought that it kept my interest more than most books. The diary included things that were happening in France during that time, but then also would mention bits of Scotland so that the reader got a feeling for both places. There is a wide range of characters introduced in this story as well, giving the reader a variety of people to learn about from Mary’s perspective.