Maureen Milton's Reviews > Queen of the Falls

Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg
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's review
Apr 03, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: arbor-juniors, arbor-primaries, arbor-intermediates
Read in June, 2011

While I always admire Chris Van Allsburg's work, I do not always appreciate it. Sometimes it seems as though it is adult fantasy wedged into the children's picture book market. That said, I know that he and all of his work have fans among the short set, but it's an interesting select.

Fortunately, "Queen of the Falls," is a work of non-fiction that is just off-kilter enough to draw the formidable drawing (and storytelling) genius of Van Allsburg. I haven't tried the story out on Juniors or Primaries as a readaloud, but my own 10-year-old loved it. I'll test it out on the 13-year-old upon his return from camp.

As a Caldecott contender, I believe that the book has legs. Van Allsburg is a master, and in this title, his extraordinary use of white on sepia evokes the age & times of the subject, as well as the roiling quality of Niagara Falls and Annie Taylor's desperation as the erstwhile "queen." The characters' expressions are rendered with Renaissance-master-level precision. The cover and endpapers are sound, if utilitarian, but the cloth cover (obscured by most library copy covers)is brilliant.

I have a question of eligibility, though. The title page lists 2010 as the date, while the copyright in the back is given as 2011. Hmm...

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