The Boy Witch and The Queen of Scots (Blog Tour)


I was super excited to be asked to take part in author Barbara Henderson’s latest blog tour. Thanks so much to publisher Luath Press Ltd for a copy of the book.  I had the huge privilege to participate in Barbara’s blog tour for her first historical fiction book Fir for Luck back in 2016, and then for several other books since.
The Boy, the Witch and the Queen of Scots is an eye opening insight into the turbulent period when Mary Queen of Scotts was Queen of Scotland. It begins when she arrives back in Scotland, at the port of Leith in 1561, when she was 18 years old. 

The story draws you in from the very first chapter

The story is told from the unique perspective of Alexander Buchan, a 12 year old falconer. The reader is hooked in from the very beginning as the young man is sent to the docks to collect something, but then through the mist sees the returning Queen’s ship arriving. 
“But then, something catches my eye: a fainter shade of grey, a vessel less defined but sailing into port. No there are two, two galleys, and fine ones at that, though their bright paint work is fog muted..” P12
Alex is the one that alerts others to the arrival of the Queen’s ship (which has arrived a week earlier than expected). But the reader gets alerted to the suggestion that it’s the last thing he wanted, and there is some reason he needs to stay hidden. A terrific way to start a story, which will really draw young readers in.

An fantastic introduction to the conflicts of Tutor Scotland

Soon Alex is send to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, to assist Mr Kerr, the chief falconer to the Queen. Alex finds himself caught in the middle of the religious wars of the turbulent Tudor era, in which Nobels plot and scheme for power, willing to murder to ensure the religion (Catholic or Protestant) they owe allegiance becomes the dominant one in Scottish politics. Alex has to wrestle with right and wrong. Trying to hold his master the Early of Huntly and the more sister villain of ‘The Cloak’, at bay. He is assisted by a young girl Lizzie, who is employed as a Seamstress for the Queen. 
I highly recommend this book for children aged 9 to 13 years, though many older teenagers and adults with an interest in Scottish history would love it too.

Researching periods of history, reading around the topic

I loved reading this story, as I have several of her other Scottish historical adventures. Barbara has developed a real skill at researching periods of history, as part of the writing process and then identifying a young protagonist from which to tell the story and give a unique perspective on history. 
I was fascinated to read Lucas Maxwell, a librarian in a secondary school interview with Barbara for the Boy the Witch and the Queen blog Tour and have quoted a little piece from it below:
“I immersed myself in reading about the Queen best known for the tragic fate. Reading around the topic without as specific agenda can really help to distill a story.”

Educational resources

Barbara Henderson has created some fabulous teaching resources to go with her book, they can be viewed on her website, see the link at the bottom of this post. This would be a wonderful book to share in the classroom, Barbara has used her expertise as writer and drama teacher in primary schools to give you a wealth of resources to help create rich learning opportunities with this book in the classroom. These resources include:
    • The book has in the endnotes a glossary, historical timeline, and index of people and places
    • The education resources, include a chapter by chapter guide. See the example from chapter 8 below. Which opens up many possibilities to explore the reformation, conflicts between Catholics and Protestants, but also to widen the debate to a broader discussion about ‘sectarianism’. 
    • Events boxes to cut and and arrange in date order
    •   Drawing on her experience as a drama teacher, there are also some great drama based ideas to help students draw out knowledge and understanding from the text. I particular like the idea of freeze framing key events in the story (Photo Story Comic).

You can view and download the  educational resource pack for The Boy Witch and The Queen of Scots here

Do check out the other posts on the Blog Tour below. 

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