________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 17 . . . . April 25, 2003


Queen of the Universe. (Solo reading).

Libby Gleeson. Illustrated by David Cox.
Markham, ON: Scholastic, 2002.
51 pp., pbk., $4.50.
ISBN 0-439-98879-9.

Subject Headings:
Brothers and sisters-Fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Janet Delgatty.

*** /4


Every day, at lunchtime, I went to the hall.

Ms. Hill walked up and down.

"No. No. No," she yelled at the spacemen and their space dogs. "That is not the way to come on the stage. Come from the other side."

She grinned at my sister. "Yes, Gina. You come on now. No, Ann. Come to the front of the stage."

Ms. Hill got red in the face and put her hands over her eyes. "Why am I doing this?" she said.

A week before the show, a spaceman tripped over his space boots. He fell into the curtain at the back of the stage. The curtain dropped on everyone.

Ms. Hill put her hands over her eyes. "Why am I doing this?" she said.

Three days before the show, a space dog called Snickers (because it's chocolate all over) jumped off the stage and got its leg stuck in a can of red paint. It ran around and howled. It looked like
raspberry ripple ice cream.

The whole school came running.

Ms. Hill put her hands over her eyes. "Why am I doing this?" she said.

Gina is going to be "Queen of the Universe" in the school play. The protagonist, her unnamed younger brother who tells the story in the first person, wants to be a spaceman in the play. Once he can get someone to listen to him, he's told he is too young, but that he can help make the costume and the props. So he helps with everything, listens to Gina practice her lines and attends every practice. The day before the performance, Gina gets chicken pox. Ms. Hill, the teacher/director, is determined that the show must go on. The boy's patience and perseverance pays off as he gets to be Queen of the Universe, with some help from a mop for hair and a box to stand on behind the space ship so that he's tall enough.

     This slight book has a lot going for it. With an average of two sentences per page, and division into chapters, it's great for kids who want to read chapter books but are not quite up to harder series like Trina Wiebe's “Abby and Tess, Pet-sitters” or Kenneth Oppel's “Barnes and the Brains.”

     The story is satisfying and, between the text and the black-and-white illustrations, the characters are remarkably well rounded. Mom is busy and distracted but focuses lovingly on the boy once he gets her attention. Dad's patience shows as the two build the spaceship together. Gina is full of her own importance as the star of the show. The baby brother is funny, pretending to be a different animal in each scene. The distraught teacher is also funny and pulls it all together when she needs to do so. And our unnamed hero is delighted when he gets to be Queen of the Universe.


Janet Delgatty is Manager of Programming and Youth Services with Vancouver Island Regional Library, based in Nanaimo, BC.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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