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In "Claudia and the Gladiator," Betty Williams magically takes readers to another place and time. The year is 166 AD, and eleven-year-old Claudia Marcella lives with her father about fifteen miles outside of Rome. An only child and motherless, Claudia is left for stretches at a time with the household’s two slaves as her father captains his small fleet of ships. On one of his visits home, Claudia seeks her father’s approval to enter an oratory competition that is only open to boys. Determined to compete, and with her father’s approval, Claudia challenges the existing rules and ultimately is allowed to participate. Soon thereafter, Claudia meets a student named Alexander who is a slave, and also happens to be a gladiator. Using her oratorical skills, Claudia saves Alexander from a terrible fate, and in so doing demonstrates that all determined children are capable of extraordinary achievements.