Monday, September 2, 2019

Queen of the Sea, by Dylan Meconis (ages 10 - 14)

As a child, I often felt alone, trying to figure out the world--I think that's why orphans appeal to young readers so much. Queen of the Sea draws on this appeal, bringing readers into the isolated world of a young girl raised as the only child on an island convent in Tudor England. This richly illustrated graphic novel pulled me in, with its historical reimagining of the struggle for the royal succession after Henry VIII's death. I found it engrossing and rewarding and look forward to sharing it with students this fall.
Queen of the Sea
by Dylan Meconis
Walker Books / Candlewick, 2019
Google Books preview
Amazon / your local library
ages 10-14
As the story opens, young Margaret introduces us to her world on an isolated island raised by nuns. Margaret is not satisfied with the nun's answers about her parents and heritage, and readers wonder how the preface about the queen escaping into exile will be worked into Margaret's story. Meconis introduces elements of the Tudor world with ease, helping young readers develop a sense of how self-sufficient the nuns on this isolated island were.

When Lady Cameron and her son William arrive, Margaret finally has a new friend her own age. She does not ask many questions about why they are in exile, or what political turmoil is engulfing the kingdom of Albion. Margaret slowly discovers how this turmoil impacts her isolated existence when another visitor, the former Queen Eleanor, is banished to the island and kept under constant watch.

The intriguing plot and complex characters kept me reading, and I especially appreciated the way Margaret’s character develops, as she discovers her heritage and voice. While this is text-heavy for a graphic novel, the expressive illustrations helped me imagine Margaret's world, both physically and emotionally. The New York Times review captured it well:
"Meconis’s drawings, full of heart and humor, beautifully evoke Margaret’s many moods, and the rhythms and routines of life in an island convent... They enrich the reader’s understanding of Margaret’s bygone world, and of Margaret herself."
You'll get a sense with this preview from Google Books:


Hand this to readers who like historical fiction, royal intrigue, plucky heroines, and long graphic novels. Here are some other favorite graphic that combine these elements:
The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Walker Books / Candlewick. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2019 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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