In this post, we will take a look at the book Peter the Great by Diane Stanley (32 pp).
This book covers the life and death of Peter the Great (1672-1725) one of the most influential Tsars of Russia. The book begins by showing Peter as small boy play war games with his friends. What is unique is that Peter is not the leader, despite his status, but is rather one of the junior soldiers taking orders from the other boys. This points already to an everyman personality of Peter.
The story does not neglect that Peter was royalty and shows some of the luxuries Peter enjoyed such as dancing animals and his own horses. Peter even designed and sailed his own ships.
As a student, Peter was educated by Europeans. He saw how they lived compared to how people in his country lived and it planted a seed for reformation in Peter’s heart.
I his early twenties Peter travels to Europe. While there he absorbs as much culture about Europe as possible and focuses heavily on learning various trades such as shipbuilding. His status as a King made it difficult to learn trades as people found this strange of someone of his rank.
Upon returning home, Peter began immediately to reform Russia. Immediately the long beards that Russian men favored were removed at least among the elite. In addition, the long robes were shortened. Men and women were encouraged to mingle at social settings and arranged marriages were discouraged.
Peter also built schools and canals. His greatest achievement may have been the founding and building of St. Petersburg. Today St. Petersburg is one of the largest cities in Russia.
Of course, all of these reforms had drawbacks. The poor were tax practically to death. Everything was taxed from candle to beards. Peasant young men had to spend as much as 25 years in the military. Lastly, thousands perhaps tens of thousands lost there lives in wars and building projects push by Peter.
Peter died in 1725 of a fever. He was 53 years old at the time of his death.
This book was extremely interesting. It captures your attention by giving with the rich illustration that has a renaissance feel to it. The illustrations always depict Peter as a man of action. The text is well-written and simple enough for an upper elementary student to understand and appreciate by themselves.
There is little to complain about. This text is well-balanced between picture and text. Younger students (below grade 4) may need help with the text. Otherwise, this book is great for all kids and provides some understanding of the history of Russia.
This is an excellent book to add ou your library as teacher or parent. Younger kids can enjoy the pictures while older kids can enjoy the text. Even an adult can benefit from reading this book if they have not been exposed to Russian history.