cover image A Boy Named Queen

A Boy Named Queen

Sara Cassidy. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $14.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-55498-905-8

In this brisk, insightful story from Cassidy (Not for Sale), the first days of fifth grade prove eye-opening and confidence-building for heroine Evelyn, whose home life is on the strict and staid side. Change is in the air from the outset: during Evelyn’s annual end-of-summer trip to the shoe store with her mother, they discover that the local institution has been replaced by a fluorescent-lit emporium called Budget Shoes; Evelyn winds up with a pair of canvas shoes instead of the “stiff leather loafers... that have dug at her ankles every year since kindergarten.” At school, there’s another new arrival, Queen, who shows up with a pink T-shirt, a dog named Patti Smith, and a name that makes him an instant target for jokes. Queen’s breezy self-confidence is revelatory for Evelyn, as is her introduction to Queen’s free-spirited parents (“Evelyn realizes she has never touched someone with tattoos. She’s never touched a tattoo!”). It’s an eloquent celebration of individuality and not hiding one’s true self: something that (as Evelyn knows) isn’t always simple, but (as Queen knows) actually can be. Ages 8–11. (Aug.)