Friday, 29 July 2016

A Boy Named Queen

Author: Sara Cassidy
Genre: Children (Middle School)
Type: ebook
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Anansi Groundwood
First Published: August 9, 2016
First Line: "Evelyn has forgotten how to fold up the lawn chair."

Book Description from GoodReadsEvelyn is both aghast and fascinated when a new boy comes to grade five and tells everyone his name is Queen. Queen wears shiny gym shorts and wants to organize a chess/environment club. His father plays weird loud music and has tattoos.

How will the class react? How will Evelyn?

Evelyn is an only child with a strict routine and an even stricter mother. And yet in her quiet way she notices things. She takes particular notice of this boy named Queen. The way the bullies don’t seem to faze him. The way he seems to live by his own rules. When it turns out that they take the same route home from school, Evelyn and Queen become friends, almost against Evelyn’s better judgment. She even finds Queen irritating at times. Why doesn’t he just shut up and stop attracting so much attention to himself?

Yet he is the most interesting person she has ever met. So when she receives a last-minute invitation to his birthday party, she knows she must somehow persuade her mother to let her go, even if it means ignoring the No Gifts request and shopping for what her mother considers to be an appropriate gift, appropriately wrapped with “boy” wrapping paper.

Her visit to Queen’s house opens Evelyn’s eyes to a whole new world, including an unconventional goody bag (leftover potato latkes wrapped in waxed paper and a pair of barely used red sneakers). And when it comes time for her to take something to school for Hype and Share, Evelyn suddenly looks at her chosen offering — her mother’s antique cream jug — and sees new and marvelous possibilities.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:  This book was short and sweet with a good message about being yourself and accepting of others.  Geared towards the middle school age group it takes a look at the effects of peer pressure and the feeling that one needs to conform with what everyone else is doing.

I actually picked up this book because, based on the book description, I thought it would broach the subject of a child being transgendered.  This subject is only faintly hinted at but the book is a good starting point for parents to discuss peer pressure and being true to oneself no matter what others think.  Queen teaches Evelyn to be happy with who she is and that she doesn't have to conform to the group mentality to be happy.  The book never has a preachy tone which younger audiences will enjoy. 

Overall, this was a good middle school read. And while I found the ending to be more abrupt than I would have liked, I applaud the author for showing her young readers that being yourself and embracing your differences is okay. You should be proud of who you are and not base your self worth on what others think.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Groundwood Books for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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