Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Queen of the Falls” as Want to Read:
Queen of the Falls
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Queen of the Falls

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  3,144 Ratings  ·  299 Reviews
She could remember standing in a park near the falls, hypnotized by the sight and sound, and holding her father’s hand as they took a walk that would lead them closer. That’s what everyone wonders when they see Niagara . . . How close will their courage let them get to it?

At the turn of the nineteenth century, a retired sixty-two-year-old charm school instructor named Ann
Hardcover, 38 pages
Published April 4th 2011 by Houghton Mifflin
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Queen of the Falls, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Queen of the Falls

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 14, 2011 Betsy rated it it was amazing
The word “daredevil” conjures up different images for different people. Speaking for myself, when I hear it I instantly picture someone like Evel Knievel leaping over cars on a motorcycle. I do not picture sixty-two year old charm school matrons climbing into barrels. The name “Chris Van Allsburg” also conjures up a variety of interesting images. A person might think of his books The Mysteries of Harris Burdick or The Sweetest Fig (or, my personal favorite, The Stranger). And until now, they als ...more
Jul 09, 2014 GoldGato rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of children's illustrated books
Prior to reading this gorgeously illustrated book, I had never heard of Annie Edson Taylor. She was, in fact, the very first person to go over the Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive. She did this incredible feat on her 63rd birthday, in 1901.

 photo Queenofthefalls-barrel_zpsf129faf1.jpg

Using Taylor as the heroine of his story, Chris Van Allsburg creates detailed charcoal drawings to complete Annie Taylor's life story, from widowhood to celebrity to forgotten "stunter". She was a charm school teacher who yearned for more and thought she
Nov 14, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing
So, I read this book aloud to a group of 3rd-5th graders. Beforehand, I estimated it would take me about 20 minutes to read this to them. Nope, it took 40 MINUTES! And the kids were with me every step of the way! I wanted a book that would hook the kids with an interesting angle, and I have found that books based on real stories really engage the older students. I started out by showing a real photo of Annie Edson Taylor and asking the kids what impressions they had. I then showed a real photo t ...more
David Schaafsma
Mar 28, 2014 David Schaafsma rated it liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
Taking three kids to Niagara Falls this summer, so will read many books on it in advance. This one is a rather calm one by the maker of gorgeous art in such books as Polar Express and Jumanji, wild stories, and a little on the fantastical and fearful side. This is about the first woman to go over the falls, in 1901, a former charm school teacher from Bay City, MI. (Van Allsburg was born four years before me in my hometown and his, Grand Rapids, MI!). She only wanted to do it (at age 63, in 1901! ...more
Jun 07, 2011 Raina rated it liked it
Rather a tragic story about a woman of advanced age who decided to be the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel in order to get rich and famous.

Really. That's it. I was really hoping for some kind of a feminist or ideological angle, but this is a lady who was gutsy enough to build her own barrel and make her adventure happen, then just fizzles out when she doesn't get rich off it. There's no indication that she has any other motivation and though she was a gutsy woman to try the task
Sep 09, 2015 Julia rated it it was amazing
Very glad that I decided to read this one. I almost didn't because I didn't know Van Allsburg had written any nonfiction. But it wasn't that long, so I decided to read it.

Beautifully written and illustrated as all his books are. I enjoyed the story more than I anticipated.

Apparently the first person to successfully ride down Niagara Falls was an elderly woman. Of course that would be ignored by the sexist atmosphere of the early 20th century. Even though the story got sad towards the end, Van Al
Sep 13, 2011 Traci rated it it was amazing
Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg tells the triumphed story of Annie Taylor, better known as the Queen of the Falls, and her journey over Niagara Falls in 1901. Annie Taylor, who started off as a charm school teacher, struggled to make ends meet. She realized she needed to make money quickly unless she wanted to end up in a poor house. She decided she would go over Niagara Falls in a barrel to become famous and rich. She builds her barrel and makes the journey to falls to begin her fatefu ...more
Apr 13, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it
Queen of the Falls is the true story of former charm school teacher, Annie Edson Taylor, who decides that the path to fame and fortune is surviving a trip over Niagra Falls in a barrel. No one expects Annie, a grandmotherly sort, to make it, but her specially-designed barrel does the job and to everyone's amazement, she has only minor injuries after the barrel ride. Annie's plan is to then tour the country speaking about her accomplishment, but no one seems to believe her...

I saw this Chris Van
Ch13_megan Carlisle
Mar 15, 2013 Ch13_megan Carlisle rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical-fic
Queen of the Falls tells the story of Annie Edson Taylor, a 62 year old charm school teacher who was down on her luck. She dreamed of adventure, fame and fortune but could quite figure out how to achieve them. Then one day she got it! All she needed to do was travel down Niagara Falls in a specially constructed barrel...and live! Will she do it? Will she survive? And if so, will her dreams come true?

Van Allsburg tells the true story of the first woman to go over Niagara falls alone. She is depic
I love shelving books at the two school libraries in which I volunteer. I had earlier looked with a little one for a copy of Van Allsburg's POLAR EXPRESS, and I found this gem. A picture-book biography about a fascinating lady I'd never heard of.

Annie Taylor was old and tired by 1901. She'd tried to make a living from running a charm school and she was about at the end of her luck...she needed something big and...excuse the pun...she needed to make a big splash.

SO she decided to go ove Niagra F
Weird book. What an unlikeable protagonist.

Apparently, reading about enclosed spaces and ESPECIALLY enclosed spaces in water freaks me out almost the way some people get freaked out just reading about spiders and rats and stuff like that, which I've never completely understood. I kind of wanted to throw up a little the first time I read this, even though I knew the outcome would be okay. I kept putting myself in the place of Annie, and also in the place of the people opening the barrel, who DIDN
Amber M
Sep 10, 2013 Amber M rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fab-40-file
Genre: Historical Fiction
Awards: None
Grade Level: K-2

Queen of the Falls can be used in the class room to encourage the students to learn about Niagara Falls and where it is located. I would make sure to also include Canada in the discussion since Niagara Falls is both in the US and Canada. It is also one of the world’s most amazing natural landmarks. It can lead us into a discussion of other natural landmarks. This story is a focused biography. So I will be sure to explain to the students what t
May 13, 2014 Annette rated it really liked it
Chris Van Allsburg has been a Todd Family favorite for well over 20 years (before "The Polar Express"). This particular book is based on a true story about the first woman to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Who know she was a 60+ year old washed-up charm school teacher who just needed money? Well, now I do.

Van Allsburg's illustrations are what draws me to his books...some don't even have words. I highly recommend any and all of his books to families, kids or young at heart grown-ups.
Marjorie Ingall
Jan 16, 2011 Marjorie Ingall rated it really liked it
Recommended to Marjorie by: Elizabeth Bird
Shelves: kids-6-12, grownups
Really lovely, really odd. The gorgeously illustrated, mysterious-vibed (of course -- it's Chris Van Allsburg) story of the first woman who successfully went over Niagara Falls in a barrel. She was not young or cute or marketable and she had a hard time capitalizing on her achievement.

This isn't the kind of picture book most kids will want to read over and over again ("And then she DIED! FORGOTTEN! THE END!" I paraphrase) -- but it so captures the scary allure of the falls. And I kept thinking
Jun 28, 2011 Holly rated it really liked it
This picture book is about Annie Edson Taylor, a 62-year-old charm school teacher who, seeking fame and fortune after the closing of her school, decides to be the first person to go over the Niagara Falls in a barrel. She succeeds in her amazing feat, but unfortunately, does not receive what she wanted. I always love Van Allsburg's illustrations!
Karen Arendt
Van Allsburg's illustrations are amazing- so lifelike. The story of Annie Taylor was interesting; it's sad that she hoped to become rich after her stunt by travelling around the country talking about it but did not.
Aug 23, 2013 Emkoshka rated it it was ok
I love it that that first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel was a woman. And in 1901! Annie Taylor had chutzpah and courage that wasn't really captured by this pretty lifeless illustration of her remarkable quest.
Franki Sibberson
A great story by Van Allsburg. Would make a great read aloud.
Edward Sullivan
Mar 04, 2011 Edward Sullivan rated it it was amazing
A departure from Van Allsburg's usual stories and the best work he has done in years. A great story about an unusual daredevil.
Mar 17, 2017 Jackie rated it really liked it
Quite a story...the first woman to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, and survive was 62-year-old Annie Edison Taylor. Hoping that the stunt would bring her fame and fortune, she designed a barrel to withstand the treacherous and dangerous waters. Although she made it over the falls, the outcome was not as she expected.
Jun 09, 2017 Cindy rated it it was amazing
I grew up on the Great Lakes and visited Niagra Falls several times. I have heard the over the falls in a barrel story, but never knew it was an aging spinster dance teacher from Michigan inside the barrel!!! What a mighty woman!!!

And Van Allsburg's illustrations are wonderful as always.
Jul 15, 2017 Michael rated it liked it
Historical fiction is unique in that it tells a story of something that actually happened, but with some added details. I was unaware of a woman going over the Niagra Falls in a barrel, much less an older woman who was a former charm school teacher.
May 04, 2017 Alenna rated it really liked it
I never knew that the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel was a woman!
May 28, 2011 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Queen of the Falls tells the extraordinary story of Annie Edson Taylor, the first person--and only woman--to go over Niagra Falls in a barrel. Chris Van Allsburg shows off his prose, in addition to his illustrations, which are in fine form, as always. But wow, can he write. Here are two of my favorite sentences from Queen of the Falls:

The first two sentences (a great start to the book): "Image being as small as a flea, standing on a sidewalk next to an open fire hydrant. this is how visitors to
My first exposure to Chris van Allsburg was in 1985 when a family for whom I babysat gave me a copy of The Polar Express, which had just been published and won the Caldecott Award (for illustrating children’s literature). Like most others who have since read and enjoyed the book I was mesmerized by the illustrations and the story combined. It was later the first Chris van Allsburg book I read to my children.

I have seen the movie JUMANJI (made in 1995, starring Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, David
Jul 30, 2011 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ncbla
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Meghan Porter
Sep 13, 2011 Meghan Porter rated it really liked it
Chris Van Allsburg did a wonderful job illustrating the story of Annie EdsonTaylor in Queen of the Fallu . This is the story of a woman who will stop at nothing to find fame and fortune. After her charm school is closed down, Annie remembers when she went to Miagra Falls with her father when she was a little girl. All of a sudden, Annie has the great idea to construct a barrel that would hold her, and allow her to go down the Falls. After successfully completing the fall, Annie and her manager ...more
Feb 24, 2017 Elaine rated it it was amazing
The word “daredevil” conjures up different images for different people. Speaking for myself, when I hear it I instantly picture someone like Evel Knievel leaping over cars on a motorcycle. I do not picture sixty-two year old charm school matrons climbing into barrels. The name “Chris Van Allsburg” also conjures up a variety of interesting images.
Sarah BT
Sep 01, 2011 Sarah BT rated it it was amazing
About the Book: Annie Taylor is finding that no one is attending her charm school classes anymore and she's bored. Convinced that there is fame and fortune waiting for her, this 62-year-old woman decides to have an adventure. She comes up with the idea of floating over Niagara Falls inside of a barrel. The barrel makers think she's crazy at first, but Annie shows them her detailed plans and believes she's found a way to survive. With a publicist hired, Annie travels to New York and excites the c ...more
Jessica Richards
Feb 02, 2012 Jessica Richards rated it really liked it
Shelves: caldecott-winner
The book Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg is an exhilarating story about a woman who dared to do what no one else had done before. The story set in 1901 is about an amazing woman named Annie Edson Taylor who on her birthday decided to do what no one else had ever done and take a plunge down Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel. Annie who was 62 at the time and a once prep school teacher, thought that this great plunge would bring her fame and fortune beyond her wildest dreams but Annie was v ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis
  • Can We Save the Tiger?
  • The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps
  • Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero
  • Orani: My Father's Village
  • Noah Webster and His Words
  • Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-True Story of  Juliette 'Daisy' Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure
  • America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell
  • Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic
  • Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton
  • Time to Eat
  • All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel
  • Coral Reefs
  • Tillie the Terrible Swede: How One Woman, a Sewing Needle, and a Bicycle Changed History
  • Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People
  • Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team
  • Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the True Story of an American Feud
  • The Great Migration: Journey to the North
Chris was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 18, 1949, the second child of Doris Christiansen Van Allsburg and Richard Van Allsburg. His sister Karen was born in 1947.

Chris’s paternal grandfather, Peter, owned and operated a creamery, a place where milk was turned into butter, cream, cottage cheese, and ice cream. It was named East End Creamery and after they bottled the milk (and made the ot
More about Chris Van Allsburg...

Share This Book