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Pretty Maids in a Row

Pretty Maids in a Row

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Pretty Maids in a Row

141 pages
1 hour
Jul 11, 2015


A time travel adventure.

Mattie, a girl from Los Angeles, learns how it feels to walk in the shoes of Mary Queen of Scots.

She discovers that being the pampered darling of the French court isn't all it's cracked up to be. While being kissed by a real prince has a certain appeal, and turning down the marriage proposal of a king can give a girl confidence, a young queen who does not learn to distinguish flattery from true friendship is bound to come to a tragic end.

Teri Kanefield's awards and distinctions include the 2015 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for The Girl From The Tar Paper School.


Teri writes novels, short stories, essays, stories for children, and nonfiction for both children and adults.

Her stories and essays have appeared in publications as diverse as Education Week, Scope Magazine, The Iowa Review, The American Literary Review, and Cricket Magazine.

Teri lives in California by the beach.


The Girl From The Tar Paper School:

--Jane Addams Children's Book Award for Older Readers, 2015

--California Reading Association Eureka Silver Honor Book Award

--Named a Distinguished Book by The Association of Children's Librarians of Northern California

--Included on the 2015 list of Notable Social Studies Trade Books for young readers compiled by the National Council for Social Studies

--Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children (National Association of Teachers of English), Recommended Book

--Included in the New York Public Library's list of 100 children's books to read in 2014.

--A Junior Library Guild selection

Rivka's Way

--Sidney Taylor Book Awards, Notable book of 2001

--Lilith Magazine's 5th Annual Selection of Books for Young Readers

--Included in Great Books for Girls, by Kathleen Odean

--Included in Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens, by Linda R. Silver

Guilty? Crime, Punishment, and the Changing Face of Justice

--Junior Library Guild selection

Jul 11, 2015

About the author

Teri Kanefield is a lawyer and writer. Her books for children have won numerous awards and distinctions, including the Jane Addams Peace Award in the Older Readers category. She lives with her family in San Francisco, California.

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Pretty Maids in a Row - Teri Kanefield


chapter one

The sign on the front gate said La Petite Reine, The Little Queen. The copper plaque mounted beneath explained that the inn was built in 1550 and renamed in 1587 to honor Mary Queen of Scots.

Mary Queen of Scots! exclaimed my twelve-year-old sister, Tessa. How romantic! She looked at me and said, "I’m so sorry! I said the word ‘romantic.’ Now you’re probably thinking about Daniel."

Daniel was the guy who asked me to the eighth grade dance. Please be quiet, I told her.

My mother’s response was predictable. Girls! she said.

We stayed here once, Dad said. A long time ago.

I must have been very young or I would have remembered. This was the kind of inn you don’t forget. A steeply pitched roof, carved gables, a pointed arched door, window boxes with yellow, orange, and red tulips—just like an illustration in a book of fairy tales. In the distance you could see the French Alps.

The door was so heavy Dad had to help me push it open. The interior was dimly lit and smelled like dried grass. Tapestries hung on the walls. Stepping inside was like stepping into another century.

I believe Mary Queen of Scots had an exciting life, Mom said as the door closed behind us. Lots of marriages, scandals, imprisonments, and dramatic escapes.

The innkeeper was seated behind the front desk. Her hair was faded blonde, streaked with gray. Mary Queen of Scots, she said, was a beautiful and tragic victim, a figure of romance.

And we French love figures of romance, Mom said. Don’t we?

My mother liked to poke fun at the French. She was French. My father was American. We’d lived in Grenoble in the southeastern part of France until I was nine. Now our home was in Brentwood, in Los Angeles.

Which room did the queen stay in? Tessa asked.

"Queens didn’t stay overnight in inns," I told Tessa.

What makes you such an expert? said Tessa. "Just because you act like a queen doesn’t mean you know anything about them."

Girls! said my mother.

Your sister is right, the innkeeper told Tessa. "La petite reine didn’t stay here overnight. She paid a personal visit because the innkeeper did her a service. She stayed in one of the Guise palaces not far from here. Her father was King James I of Scotland, but her mother was a daughter of the Guise family."

I perked up. There is a palace nearby?

The ruins of an old palace, the innkeeper said.

I’ll go get the luggage, Dad said, while you all talk about queens and the ruins of old palaces.

After he’d gone back to the car, Mom said, "Let’s get checked in, then we’ll talk about queens and the ruins of old palaces."

The innkeeper handed Mom two skeleton keys. If the girls are interested in stories about queens and old palaces, she said, "my aunt is probably in the sunroom on the third floor. She’d be pleased to have you visit her. I believe she knows everything there is to know about la petite reine."

We lugged our suitcases upstairs. The room for me and Tessa contained twin wrought-iron beds, a wardrobe, and a bookshelf. The books, cloth-bound classics, had that old-book smell that reminded me of vanilla. I flopped down on the bed. The springs squeaked under my weight.

I’m going to visit the innkeeper’s aunt, Tessa said. Are you coming?

Nah, I said.

She bounded from the room. I closed my eyes and thought about Daniel.

Daniel, if you want to know the truth, was gorgeous. He had brown hair just long enough to form curls. His eyes were green. When he smiled, the dimple in his chin showed, and his face came alive with a playful impishness. He was also a straight-A student and good athlete. He planned to try out for both high school track and freshman football.

Mom came in and said, The stories might be interesting, Mattie. Why don’t you go, too?

I just don’t feel like it. I didn’t want to sit and listen to stories. I wanted to do something. But what was there to do in a charming little inn at the foot of the French Alps, except maybe sneak away to visit the ruins of that old palace?

I checked my cell phone for messages.

You’re thinking about Daniel, Mom said. I can tell.

I didn’t bother answering.

Mattie, Mom said gently. She sat down on the bed. Again the springs creaked. You need to be careful with boys like Daniel.

I didn’t like it when she referred to guys my age as ‘boys.’ Daniel was almost fifteen. ‘Boy’ made him sound like a small child. Until recently, she’d been saying I was too young to have boyfriends. When I turned fourteen, she gave up. No point fighting battles I’m not going to win, she’d said.

You’re judging him on his looks, I said.

I’m judging him by his behavior, she said. Was that any way to treat Ashley?

Can’t a person change his mind? I asked. Ashley says she doesn’t care if I go with him. I don’t get why you hate him so much.

I don’t hate him. He worries me. Have you decided what you’re going to do?

Not yet, I said. Going to the dance with Daniel would be fun. But I had to admit that what Mom said was true. It didn’t seem right for him to ask Ashley, then suddenly without warning change his mind and say he’d rather go with me.

He knows the power of his smile, Mom said. Make no mistake about that. He knows when his dimple shows up in his chin, he can make any girl swoon.

Ashley had said something similar. When she’d assured me she didn’t mind if I went with him, she said, He’s too aware of his looks. I don’t really trust him.

I hope this trip will help you get things in perspective, she said. Sometimes being far away for a while can help.

You make it sound like I’m sick, I said.

She patted my shoulder. Go on with Tessa. Why not listen to the stories? It could be a nice distraction. When else can you hear stories about Mary Queen of Scots from a woman who knows everything there is to know about her?

I sighed. All right. Wearily I picked myself up and walked from the room. Don’t slouch, Mom called after me.

I entered the sunroom on the third floor as a woman with white hair was saying, She was said to be the most beautiful royal princess in Christendom.

The woman sat on one of the built-in benches lining the room. She had a large, round face with a sweet smile. Her blue eyes were startling against the white of her hair and skin. In her lap was some knitting.

That’s my sister, Mattie, said Tessa.

Hello, Mattie, said the woman. Please join us.

"Was la petite reine really beautiful, I asked, or did people just say that because she was a queen?"

She was definitely beautiful. We know from how every man who came near her responded to her. The poet Chastelard fell violently in love with her. All her life, men stood ready to die for her. Many did die for her, including Chastelard. Her cousin, Queen Elizabeth of England, was also young and a queen, but she never had that effect on men.

She took a book from a low shelf and flipped it open. This is a portrait of her when she was fourteen.

My sister is fourteen! Tessa said. Hey, Mattie. She looks like you!

I didn’t think the girl in the picture looked like me. She had a shy expression and heavily lidded eyes. She wasn’t beautiful, like a model or actress, but she had an appealing expression. I tried to imagine men falling so violently in love with her they stood ready to die for her, but I just couldn’t do it. She seemed, well, ordinary.

She doesn’t look so beautiful to me, I said.

That’s because of the artist, said the white-haired woman. Portraits from the sixteenth century were often sketchy and not a good likeness.

I looked more closely. In the queen’s face was a deep calmness. She looks like she has everything she wants, I said.

At the age of fourteen, said the innkeeper’s aunt, she did. Later she got caught up in the Protestant Reformation that was sweeping across Europe. Her family was staunchly Catholic. Much of Europe, including many of her own Scottish subjects, embraced the new religion.

I flipped through the pages and came upon a pencil illustration of a walled castle on a mist-enshrouded island. The caption read, The queen escaped from her imprisonment on the Isle of Lochleven with the help of one of her ladies-in-waiting, Mary Seton.

The drawing showed an island so small that the water splashed up against the walls of the castle. I felt something stir inside, as if I knew just how the queen had felt gazing out over the fog-enshrouded waters, longing for her freedom.

I put the book down and wandered over to the window. Just behind the inn was a meadow blanketed with brightly colored wildflowers. The grass was that bright green of very early spring.

This is how she looked when she was much older, the innkeeper’s aunt was saying to Tessa.

Just then I noticed something strange in the air over the meadow. Rays of sunlight bent to create a ripple in the air, like a mirage in the desert.

Maybe I’ll go outside for a while, I said.

If you don’t want to hear the stories, Tessa said, then go.

Maybe I will, I said quietly.

I walked down the three flights of stairs to the lobby. The innkeeper was plucking faded daisies from a vase on the mantle. She turned and smiled. Do you need anything upstairs?

No, I said. I thought I’d go outside for a few minutes, if that’s all right.

"Don’t go

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