The Victoria of the title is Miss V Conroy who has been parachuted in to be a companion to the more famous Princess Victoria.
Her scheming father John Conroy needs her to be more than a friend to the princess as he has an insatiable thirst for power himself.
Nevertheless, he works the system to both protect the princess from rivals to the throne and to further his own influence on the royal family. Soon the two young girls become fast friends and are almost inseparable.
Victoria is torn between her love for the princess and her desire to please her father whose ambitions know no bounds.
The characters, especially Miss V Conroy and her father, are excellently created, though the portrayal of Princess Victoria is quite negative — she is seen as often moody, unbalanced and lacking ambition.
The settings are understandably very authentic given Lucy Worsley’s position as curator of Kensington Palace.
Apart from a reference to The Illustrated London News which had not yet been founded, the story is largely historically correct.
But accepting the ending may be a bridge too far for most readers.
Suitable for age 12 and upwards.
The first title in the Life On Earth series opens with maps of the body and the head. A barrage of questions on lift-flaps are of immediate interest.
For example, we have 100,000 hairs on our heads — but carry on to find out why are some straight and some curly.
And what is the hardest part of the body — the enamel on our teeth.
The workings of the body are even more interesting — how muscles work, how many we use when walking, and which muscle is the biggest!
Organs and their functions, the working of the heart and the miracle that is the brain are explained.
The interaction continues as the process of eating and digestion leads logically on to what we should eat and why.
The board book is attractively illustrated by Andres Lozano and is an ideal spur for creative and enquiring young minds. Suitable for age four and upwards.