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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Family Friday Review: The Queen by Richard Brassey

Since it's the Queen's (actual) birthday tomorrow, it seems a good time to review this lovely new children's book all about her.

Author: Richard Brassey
Title: The Queen
Genre: Illustrated non-fiction (children's)
Publisher: Orion
Published: April 2012
Source: kindly sent for review by the publishers

Find it at Amazon UK

The blurb says:
She has two birthdays, eleven corgis and a Commonwealth of two billion people. Find out what it's like to be 'The Queen'.

My verdict: Lively in both the facts selected and the illustration, this is bound to appeal to a wide range of children.
What I like most about this is that it covers the Queen's whole lifetime (and a little family history too), yet still manages in pack in all sorts of quirky facts. This is the secret of Brassey's appeal for children, and also means that the book presents the Queen as an individual, whilst also conveying something of her responsibilities. Crucially, it is also a very respectful presentation, without being sober and dull.

Children will learn some aspects of the Queen's life that they are perhaps less likely to encounter elsewhere. Brassey has taken a chronological approach and provided quite a bit of information about her childhood and young adulthood before she became Queen. For example, it's a small thing, but my youngest (8) hadn't connected WWII as being in living memory, but learning how the young Princess Elizabeth had been in the Women's Army and learned to change truck tyres really brought that home for her. This is the kind of thing children often struggle with, in learning about history - putting it all together. This book does a great job of contextualising the Queen's lifetime and her reign without feeling particularly instructive. While it clearly is a non-fiction book, it's the sort of book that kids would pick up out of interest, learn from and enjoy. The quirky yet realistic illustrations (people are easily identifiable) add to the book's appeal and to its ability to provide interesting information.

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