Queen of the Falls
By Chris Van Allsburg
Published 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
This book was absolutely wonderful. You know, for some reason, I always feel like I have less to say about a book I really loved than a book I really hated. Obviously, it's easy to point out critiques of something that didn't work for you, but it seems much harder for me to highlight the reasons I loved something. I'm not sure why that is, but I really need to try to remedy this. No one is going to care (especially a kid or teen) if I loved a book if I can't explain to them why. Part of the reason this book is so wonderful is simply because it's written and illustrated by Van Allsburg, who I just think is a genius. Another thing that I really love about this book is that Van Allsburg has taken a little known story from history (and an incredibly fascinating one at that) and crafted it into a beautiful picture book. In this, he tells the story of Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel. The story is easy to read, though it is lengthy, so this might not be the best choice for younger children. Van Allsburg weaves quite an enchanting story about this interesting woman and her daring adventure. Perhaps the most wonderful thing, for me, were the illustrations. As always, Van Allsburg has illustrated this story in his traditional style, which I find quite beautiful. Additionally, he provides an author's note at the end of the book, highlighting some other folks who took the plunge, how he decided to write this story, and further resources for information on Taylor. A very lovely book.