Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Boy Named Queen

A Boy Named Queen

Sara Cassidy
For ages 8 to 11
Groundwood Books, 2016   ISBN: 978-1554989055

Evelyn’s life is very predictable. Every year, on the last day of the summer holidays, she and her mother go out to buy a new pair of shoes for Evelyn. Every year they get the same kind of shoes, leather loafers, and every year they go to the same store to buy them.

Evelyn’s mother likes everything to be orderly and predictable. She stays “on top of things” and does not like it when Evelyn uses her imagination, because an imagination is an not orderly or predictable thing. The problem is that Evelyn is good at using her imagination, and holding it in check is not easy. Living life according to her mother’s strict and restrictive standards is not easy either.

The first day of school starts in the normal way, but then a new student arrives. He is not wearing brand new clothes like the other children. Instead, he is wearing a faded t-shirt and jeans with holes in the knees. His hair is long and wavy and he is wearing bead necklaces. And his name is Queen.

Not surprisingly it does not take long for some of the kids to start making fun of Queen. Evelyn feels bad on his behalf, but he does not seem to care in the slightest. Even though he is so different, Evelyn and Queen connect. They find it easy to talk to each other and start walking home together after school.

Then Queen invites Evelyn to his birthday party. Just from the invitation, a hand-made collage, Evelyn can tell that this party is not going to be a normal party. She never imagines that this particular birthday party is going to change something inside her in a very startling, and wonderful, way.

What is extraordinary about this book is that the author manages to say so much in a relatively short amount of time. We see how Evelyn, with her quiet little voice and shy ways, starts to open up and bloom thanks to Queen. She learns so much from the boy with the odd name, and discovers that something has been missing from her life; something priceless. We also see how dangerous it is to judge others, because so often what you think you know about people is completely incorrect.

Superb writing and beautifully crafted characters make this book a joy to read.