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The Marble Queen

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  171 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
Freedom Jane McKenzie isn’t good at following the rules. She doesn’t like any of the things that girls are supposed to like. She’s good at fishing, getting into trouble—and playing marbles. All she wants is to enter the marble competition at the Autumn Jubilee and show the boys in the neighborhood that she’s the best player. If she can’t be the Marble King, then she’ll be ...more
Hardcover, e-book and audio, 192 pages
Published December 18th 2012 by Amazon Children's Publishing (first published November 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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This book wasn't too sure what it wanted to be. What I think it turned out to be is an attempt at reconstructing Beverly Cleary's Ramona series but with a side of alcoholism and random and unnecessary historical references. This book wasn't what I thought it was going to be upon picking it up. A lot of times that's a good thing - in this case I was frustrated. There wasn't that much about marbles, which could have really been used to nice and eccentric effect. I was also hoping this story would ...more
Apr 03, 2015 Cathie rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya-and-kids
upper elementary, middle grades
first person POV
AR test

Freedom Jane is a 5th-grade girl who likes playing marbles better than playing dolls, and wants to enter the Autumn Jubilee marble contest. First she has to convince her mother (and the boys in her class) who say marbles are for boys.

Set in 1959, it got some of the details right but not others (no girls would have been allowed to wear pants to school, and no girls that age would have worn lip stick).

Freedom's father drinks too much
Narrated by Kelly Fogwell. In 1959 Idaho, Freedom McKenzie is on the cusp of adolescence but she still loves to get down in the dirt and play marbles. She intends to enter the marbles competition at the Autumn Jubilee even though her mother wants her to be more ladylike. Her dad drinks more beer than he should, the neighborhood boys don't want to play marbles with her anymore, and the feared older lady next door ends up becoming a friend. Fogwell nicely brings out the everyday ups and downs of F ...more
Mary Louise Sanchez
It's the summer of 1959 and Freedom Jane McKenzie just celebrated her tenth birthday, receiving a hula hoop, paint-by-number set, and Barbie doll. Freedom would rather have new roller skates, shoot marbles with her old friend, Daniel, who now avoids her; and she'd like the opportunity to enter the marble competition at the Autumn Jubilee in her Idaho town. First Freedom has to persuade her mother to give her money for the entry fee and convince her that girls should be able to play marbles with ...more
Ms. Yingling
Mar 02, 2013 Ms. Yingling rated it really liked it
In 1959, Freedom Jane McKenzie is frequently in trouble for getting dirty and tearing her dresses, which makes her pregnant mother unhappy with her. Freedom is a tomboy, and her mother is trying to make her more ladylike, since she is starting fifth grade. The one thing that gets Freedom in the most trouble is also the thing she does best-- playing marbles. Her mother thinks this is just for boys, and the boys she has been playing with, especially her best friend Daniel, think that as well. Ther ...more
Margo Tanenbaum
Jan 01, 2013 Margo Tanenbaum rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1950-s, middle-grades
Debut author Stephanie J. Blake has written an appealing middle-grade novel about a heroine with an unusual name: Freedom Jane McKenzie. It's 1959, and Freedom is a tomboy through and through. She'd rather be playing marbles with the boys than engaging in more lady-like pursuits like tea parties and playing with Barbies. She dreams of winning the annual marble competition at the Autumn Jubilee, but it's not clear her mother will even let her enter, since her mom thinks marbles aren't proper for ...more
Feb 03, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-ya, read-2013
This book tells about a wonderful young woman named Freedom who is growing up in the late 50’s, watching Lawrence Welk and his bubbles. She is a fifth grader wanting to go to the drive-in movies, but her daddy drinks too much and wrecks the car on the night he has promised to take her. She is a girl who likes to do things that girls in the times should not like to do, like playing marbles, and her mother tells her what young ladies do quite a bit. Freedom’s little brother Higgie is always in tr ...more
Aug 02, 2013 Amy rated it it was ok
Freedom Jane McKenzie is a 10-year-old girl in 1959. She loves to play marbles with the boys and dreams of competing in the Autumn Jubilee marble competition. Her mother is against the idea, hoping that she will do something more ladylike and her alcoholic father encourages her marble playing but doesn't fight her mother in her decisions.
It was a cute little children's story, but in my opinion, nothing too spectacular. I enjoyed the characters immensely but found the plot someone lacking. Each
Mar 22, 2013 Aeicha rated it really liked it
Stephanie Blake's The Marble Queen is an honest, amusing, and surprisingly poignant look at the coming of age of experiences one little girl in 1959 struggles and triumphs through.

Ten year old Freedom Jane McKenzie isn't the kind of little girl her mother wants her to be. Freedom rather play marbles with the boys then play with Barbies or have tea parties. But Freedom is determined to win the marble competition at the Autumn Jubilee and be the first Marble Queen...that is, if her momma gives he
Feb 05, 2013 Tracie rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical-fiction, j
Freedom Jane McKenzie feels the constraints of societies rules for girls and women, and in that, she foreshadows the turbulent sixties ahead. She's not fond of dresses, dolls, tea or any of that; she just wants to play marbles a game for boys according to almost every grown-up she meets. But Freedom Jane is determined to enter and win the crown of Marble Queen at the Autumn Jubilee.
More personally, she reads as an authentic young girl, beginning to mature, with a flawed but loving family. Her
Carol Wilcox
Jan 06, 2013 Carol Wilcox rated it really liked it
This is Colorado author Stephanie J. Blake's first novel. Historical fiction, set in 1959. Freedom Jane is the best mibster (marble player) in her grade/neighborhood, and wants to enter a marble contest, but her mama says she is too old to be playing marbles with the boys. Freedom isn't ready to give up her dream. On top of that, Daniel, who has been her best friend for years, doesn't want to play with her any more, because she is a girl. And then her daddy is drinking way too much beer, which m ...more
Jan 25, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it
It's not as profound as TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD or THE HUNDRED DRESSES but has the same sort of style. A fast read with good underpinning of feminism (what is and is not "proper" for a girl to enjoy) that could be explored further. (The current ending is good for the main plot, but for the feminist theme, the "it's fine now that I've scratched that itch" felt somewhat anticlimatic.) Nevertheless, it's fairly well written and charming story.
Freedom Jane McKenzie hates following rules, which usually lands her in trouble with her teachers, her mom, and everyone else. The one thing she is good at is playing marbles, and she is determined to enter the marble competition at the Autumn Jubilee to prove it. First she has to convince her mother to let her enter, then convince the neighborhood boys to let her keep practicing with them so she keep up her skills, and then she has to stay out of trouble. But, Daniel, her best friend since kind ...more
Sharon Lawler
The author really does a nice job of painting a picture of 1959 Idaho through the eyes of 10 year old Freedom, who an ace mibster (marble player). Unfortunately, girls are supposed to play with Barbies, and all Freedom wants to do is enter the town's marble shooting contest. things are complicated. Mom has a firm picture of a girl's role in society, and it does not include marbles. She is also unhappily pregnant with a third child. Actually, she is unhappy about lots of things, which got old for ...more
Feb 20, 2014 Lori rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!! My only complaint was that there should have been more marble-playing in it, but then again, thinking about who the audience of this book is really supposed to be, perhaps it was better that the author kept it pretty simple. Seriously, such a cute book.
Dec 31, 2014 Arlene rated it it was ok
Shelves: kids
Checking it out book for my daughter. Easy quick read, maybe for a lazy summer day when you don't want to think. It's like reading an elementary chapter book but just longer. Nothing bad but nothing stood out either.
Robin Donnelly
Jan 01, 2013 Robin Donnelly rated it it was amazing
An adorable, charming read! I loved Freedom Jane McKenzie and her feisty, independent, tom-boyish ways. Although her lifestyle was different than mine, her attitude and personality are all too familiar to me. I just couldn't help but giggle in so many spots along the way. I found myself saying, "Oh my... that's so me!" Freedom's family and friends are equally charming and although they have troubles, you can feel the love they have for one another. I especially loved that part. This was a quick ...more
Laurie Grove
Apr 13, 2013 Laurie Grove rated it it was amazing
I could picture the setting of this fast paced family story, as I am familiar with it's location in Idaho and the Snake River it mentions. It takes place in the 1950's The family was like many families, scraping by financially, the father suffering from alcoholism, which of course affects the rest of the family, in a time when moms were mostly housewives. In this book the young girl tells bits and pieces of growing up in such a family, and how, in spite of their problems, there's plenty of love ...more
Oct 09, 2014 Kristin rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids, next-reads
“You know how sometimes you need to do something – especially when people say you can’t, you have to try anyway?” Freedom is a girl in 1959 who loves shooting marbles. But as everyone is always pointing out, “Girls don’t shoot marbles.” Freedom won’t listen. This is a great little piece of Americana told from a kid’s perspective about a normal family doing normal things. The parents are a little stressed about money; Freedom’s little brother bugs her a little; and Freedom wants to be the first g ...more
Feb 03, 2014 Taryn rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Freedom wants to compete in the annual marbles competition, but growing up in 1950, her mom thinks girls shouldn't play.
Brenda Kahn
I enjoyed this one. Spunky Freedom is ten years old with absolutely no interest in become the lady that her mother is pressuring her to be. She's a great mibster but the boys are freezing her out of games. Even her best bud, Daniel, is acting weird. Her mom is constantly criticizing, her dad is drinking too much, her little brother is such a pain and her next door neighbor might be a Commie. She's not sure what that is, but her mother doesn't seem to like her much. The writing is subtle and punc ...more
Oct 16, 2012 Jen rated it really liked it
I was very excited to receive this book in a Goodreads giveaway. The timing was perfect because I just bought my 4th grade daughter marbles and have been in the process of teaching her the game. Stephanie Blake takes us back to a time long before ipods and game systems. Her story is rich with historical references and reminds me of the beloved Ramona books. Freedom Jane McKenzie is fiesty, intelligent and not about to let a little thing like being a girl stand in her way of entering the contest ...more
Medeia Sharif
Jan 28, 2016 Medeia Sharif rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Freedom is a young lady with a stressful home life. Her father is an alcoholic, her mother is pregnant, her brother is troublesome, and money is an issue. Her escape and a skill she excels in is playing marbles, even though people around her think it’s unfeminine and something only boys should do. When a marble contest is in the near future, she just has to get in and compete. Will her mom let her enter? Can she win this competition? I liked the voice in this, Freedom is a great middle grade cha ...more
Freedom Jane is spunky. She is not ladylike. Fifth grade is harder than fourth grade and nothing she does can please her mama. The only thing Freedom really, really, really wants is to compete in the marble shooting tournament. But her mama says that marbles are for boys, and boys and girls shouldn't play together.

I adored Freedom -- she reminded me so much of myself at that age. The book is amusing and made me chuckle out loud a few times; but it also touches on some more serious subject matter
Feb 14, 2014 Maddy rated it it was ok
Katie Carroll
Feb 07, 2013 Katie Carroll rated it it was amazing
In The Marble Queen, Stephanie J. Blake has created a character in Freedom McKenzie that I would have loved hanging out with as a kid. For all of the mischief-making Freedom does, she is a loving older sister and friend who's trying to navigate her way through growing up in a time when girls weren't supposed to play marbles. I love how hard Freedom tries to be good, and even with her best efforts, she ends up in trouble. This is a fun and sweet middle grade read great for girls and boys.
Jan 20, 2013 Linda marked it as to-read
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book free as a Goodreads First Read. I gave it to my 10 year old Granddaughter for Christmas. She called me last night to let me know that it was the best book she ever read! She then wanted to know if Stephanie J. Blake had any more books. I couldn't be more pleased! Now that she is letting me borrow it, I will be adding to this post later.
Susan Kennedy
This story reminded me of a childhood where dresses for school were expected and fried chicken and church were a weekly expectation. I loved the ideas of complex relationships and early feminism. I wish it had been a little more developed. References to alcoholism and infidelity might make some teachers uncomfortable.
May 24, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: chapter, historical
Freedom is tired of her mom telling her what girls can't do. In 1959, a girl cannot play marbles with boys and she certainly cannot enter the marble competition at the Autumn Jubilee. Of course the only thing Freedom wants to do is enter the competition and win!! Nice old-fashion feel to this story. Highly recommend!
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
Freedom Jane is a girl after my own heart. This is an excellent "slice of life" look at the late 1950s. There are some serious issues, but all are handled in an appropriate-for-the-age-group way. And every kid who reads it is going to want to rediscover that forgotten childhood pasttime . . . marbles.
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