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Beautiful and inclusive illustrations by debut artist Nia Tudor are as warm in tone as this gentle but thought-provoking story of child agency. Only our young narrator pays any attention to the old lady and her dog, who live on a deserted plot at the corner of her street. Adults hurry by trying not to see this social nuisance, but this little girl stops to talk and imagines all the adventures this ‘Queen’ must have had to lose some teeth ‘in battle’. She persuades her Mum that it is very easy to lose your ‘palace’ and young readers will want to talk about how people fall into poverty and homelessness. So, this Queen needs some care and attention and they start to bring her tea and toast. Our narrator tells herself that the Queen is protecting their street as she looks out on her at bedtime and indeed that is exactly what the Queen does when she sees a fire start and then wakes up the whole street just in time. (Another highly topical note with fires all around the world an increasing problem and very vividly captured by stunning images) Our young heroine makes sure that everyone knows the Queen saved the day and at long last the community rallies round to provide her a home. If only in real life we could listen to empathetic young people speaking up for social justice. This lovely story will encourage young readers to believe that they can make a difference and will reinforce the belief that we all have a duty of care for ‘others’ .
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