Monday, May 25, 2015

*Review* The Queen's Shadow by Cybèle Young

Genre: Children's Illustrated
Published: March 1, 2015
Pages: 40
Ages: 7-11


In this informational picture book, award-winning author and illustrator Cybèle Young interweaves the science of animal eyesight into a clever whodunit involving a haughty queen. It is during the Queen's Ball, at which "society's most important nobility" are in attendance (all of whom are animals), that a "major crime has been committed": the queen's shadow has been stolen! Mantis Shrimp, the Royal Detective, takes the lead in the investigation to find the perpetrator, and one by one the animal suspects defend their innocence. From a shark and a snake to a dragonfly and a goat, each creature's testimony explains their version of the scene of the crime based on their own unique eyesight, while the finely textured and detailed artwork illustrates the ballroom as viewed by that animal. In sidebars to the story, the author provides factual information about how the eyesight of each animal works, and why. As each animal's perspective sheds new light on the mystery, it becomes clear to children that there are many different ways to see what goes on in the world. A section on how human vision works, background on each of the animals mentioned in the story and a glossary are provided at the back of the book. This is a unique and sophisticated book unlike any other. It would be an excellent resource for life science lessons on animal and human characteristics. The sly humor, engaging storytelling and layered narrative also make it a terrific mystery read.


I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program.

This book is targeted towards children between the ages of 7 and 11 according to the note that accompanied my copy of the book. I'm guessing that is because those are the ages where kids can begin to grasp the scientific aspects of the book. I think younger children would enjoy the story though, especially if you left out the explanations about each animals eyesight, although I will personally always be including them when reading to my two minions.

This is a cute story about the search for the Queen's shadow after it is discovered to be missing. The mystery and search was reminiscent of the board game Clue and in spite of knowing the answer to the mystery from the book, I'm still pretty sure it was Colonel Mustard in the library with a wrench. The best part about this story for me, is that I wouldn't mind reading it over and over again (for a little while at least), which any of you who have ever had small children know is how you read their favorite books to them.

I thought the rotation through suspects and explanations of what they saw and why they were able to see it worked really well, and the illustrations did an excellent job of showing what the scientific explanations were getting at. I even feel like I learned a little something from this book.

Overall I give it 5 out of 5 stars for being entertaining and educational at the same time. I would definitely recommend it to parents of young children. 

Buy the Book

About the Author

Cybèle Young is an internationally renowned artist, represented by galleries in New York, London, Vancouver and Calgary. Her art practice and family life have also inspired the creation of several children's books. She was nominated for a Governor General's Award for Illustration in 2000, and has written and illustrated two titles (Ten Birds, Kids Can Press, and A Few Blocks, Groundwood Books).

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