Working for the brilliant library service, a place which doesn’t discriminate, a welcome community hub and home for all, I often think about those who come through our doors and their lives. We just see the person in front of us initially, but everyone has a story to tell, everyone has a past, a present, a future. I consider myself very privileged in my upbringing and how life so far has treated me. Every day in my library, we see at least one person who has little to nothing in terms of material possessions, no roof over their heads, no job maybe. But they still have stories to tell, experiences to offer, conversation, feelings, so much. Today’s book sees those people. This is The Queen on our Corner. Written by Lucy Christopher, illustrated by Nia Tudor and published by Lantana Publishing.
This gorgeous picture book is told through eyes of a young child, who sees the Queen on her corner (and her little dog). Ignored, disregarded and even feared by everyone else in the neighbourhood, the child tries earnestly to help her be seen, to find out her story. Isn’t this one of the lovely things about little children? How they can see people that we as adults may pass on by, or even judge badly purely because of their situation.
The Queen in this book, through an unfortunate event, is able to help the people in her neighbourhood, and as such finally become part of it and receive some help herself.
Everything about this book, every aspect is so perfectly crafted, it really is a special thing. I will start with Nia’s illustrations, purely because the front cover alone is one of the most eye catching I’ve seen this year in a picture book. Stunning autumnal colours, filling the page and a spotlight on the child and the Queen. It is stunning.
Inside, behind this glorious book front door, the imagery continues to delight and evoke emotions. I love the representation of the neighbourhood, quaint and colourful, somewhere I would love to live, and SO clever in that you read the words, but you really have to search to find the Queen spoken about. As you would in real life. And that’s the point, how sadly easy it is to overlook a human being, who is there every day. It’s quite heartbreaking really. Nik plays with perspective and colour and uses fantasy imagery within the illustrations to tell this story, and it’s a treasure trove of colour, texture, detail and varied characters.
Lucy’s words are equally, poignant, particularly when paired with he artwork here. They flow gently and easily, and are packed with emotion and perfectly capture the child’s questioning perspective.
“It’s easy to lose a palace, that’s what I say to Ma. Easier than you may think.”
I am not religious, but I’m sure many of us have stated the term “there but for the grace of God go I.” and I’m sure I have, because we all know that actually, that person could have been us, and could still be us. It’s so important that we recognise how fortunate we are to be sat with a roof over our heads reading this picture book, rather than being this picture book.
That’s why books like this are SO important. They teach our children, not only, privilege and gratitude for what we do have, but they also teach empathy and show children that not everyone has what they may have. And maybe even, for those children who may not have a stable roof over their heads, maybe they come into the library, read this book and see they’re not alone, that they, too, are seen.
Oh honestly, this is such a beautiful book, the essence of the story about noticing those ghosts in shop doorways or on street corners, and recognising them for the Kings and Queens they are is just such a special and important sentiment. This book encourages us to open our eyes and see the world, see people, and remind the reader that every one has a story to tell and real value. This message has been conveyed here with sensitivity, emotion, and carefully cultivated words and artwork.
THE QUEEN ON OUR CORNER is now available in all good bookshops! OR, buy your copy from Lantana’s online shop and donate a book to children who need books the most with your purchase: www.lantanapublishing.com
Thank you to Lantana for sending me a copy of this book for my honest thoughts, and thank you for reading this Book Monster Review.