The Queen of France, written by Tim Wadham and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, is about a girl named Rose who wakes up one morning feeling "royal." Rose dons her jewels and crown, and announces to her mother that she is the Queen of France. She spends the rest of the day alternating between her Rose and Queen of France personas, with the continued cooperation and loving support of her tolerant mother (and occasionally her father). The Queen of France is a celebration of pretending as well as a testimonial to parent-child affection.
Most of the text in The Queen of France is in the form of dialog between Rose, or the queen (but never both, of course), and Rose's mother. Whenever Rose is dressed as the queen, she is completely in character. Like this:
"Ouch!" said the queen. "I have pricked my royal finger."
"May I kiss it for you?" said Rose's mother.
"No," said the queen. "I have a Royal Physician for things like that. Good-bye."
"Good-bye," said Rose's mother.
"Hello, Rose's mother," said the Queen of France.
"Hello again," said Rose's mother.
"I am shocked to see that you do your own cooking," said the queen.
"Well, here in the village, we have to cook for ourselves."
And so on. But when given the choice of being the queen permanently, Rose decides that she would rather be her mother's daughter than be the Queen of France. Well, at least until the next dress-up urge comes along. Just a the nicest bit heartwarming, without being cloying.
I must admit that a big part of what draws me to The Queen of France is Kady MacDonald Denton's illustrations. I'm a huge fan of her work in the Mouse and Bear series, written by Bonnie Becker (see my reviews of A Visitor for Bear and A Bedtime for Bear). In The Queen of France, we see the same warmth, glowing colors and attention to detail that I've loved in the Mouse and Bear books. However, as befitting a book about a girl who imagines herself to be a queen, the tones that Denton uses here are a bit richer, a bit pinker.
Rose's house is cluttered and homey. There are toys everywhere. Her parents are a little bit pudgy, and they look homey, too. The Queen of France herself is a delight, bedecked with bracelets and necklaces, and holding a pink parasol above her head. Her expression is different from Rose's (more snooty), such that even without the costume, one could probably tell Rose and the queen apart.
I think that any little girl who enjoys dressing up will enjoy looking through these illustrations and reading about Rose (though parents should be prepared to ensure that a dress-up basket is available afterwards). This is the first picture book by Tim Wadham, a longtime librarian, and I expect that we'll be seeing more of his work. The Queen of France is an entertaining, gorgeously illustrated book, recommended for home or library purchase.
Publisher: Candlewick (@Candlewick)
Publication Date: March 8, 2011
Source of Book: Library copy
Nominated for 2011 Cybils in Fiction Picture Books by: Michelle H.
© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).