Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine

Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine

Gloria Whelan
Illustrator:  Nancy Carpenter 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Simon and Schuster, 2014   ISBN: 978-1416927532

Queen Victoria looks out at the sea one day and she can’t help wishing, out loud, that she could go for a swim. Her wish is so shocking that the queen’s lady-in-waiting collapses. A queen cannot be seen “showing more of herself than she ought to,” and since a person cannot swim wearing a dress, petticoats, shoes, and tights, going for a swim in the sea just isn’t an option for the queen.

   Albert, the queen’s loving husband, is not one to give up easily. If his wife wants to go for a swim there must be a way for her to be able to do so without showing off her knees to her subjects.

  Albert, who is a very learned man, puzzles over the problem and then, one night, a wonderful idea pops into his head. In the morning the prince demands that someone bring him wood, stones, a wheelwright, and a mason. When his project is complete he announces to his wife that he has made her a bathing machine!

   Loosely based on the true story of Queen Victoria’s bathing machine, this picture book tells an amusing tale, and at the same time it captures the love that Queen Victoria and her husband shared. We also see how Prince Albert was willing to take on a challenge, which he did many times during his tragically short life. The man who brought the world the Crystal Palace and who was concerned about the living conditions of the poor was not too busy to encourage his wife to swim in the sea.

   At the back of the book readers will find an author’s note where they are provided with more information about Queen Victoria, her husband, and her reign.