Everyone hits those days when we just need to know that bad things happen to good people, that hard times come to an end, and that SUMMER IS COMING!!!
Thomas and I finished the school year. In two months, we will return to San Antonio as 5th year (translates to ‘old and veteran’) teachers. He will be taking on greater responsibilities as a teacher, and I will be coming back as a lead for 5th grade. But, we aren’t anywhere near that time. First, we have two days to finishing writing our grades and evaluations. Then two glorious months of summer travel to Maine and back.
As we are standing on the brink of an adventure, it seemed appropriate to feature a review of a boom about celebrating the coming of good, beauty, and truth in the simplicity of a fairy tale.
Steven Kroll has written a delightful retelling of a Grimms tale, or perhaps it is a conglomeration of many tales. A young girl, named Sylvie, wishes to collect flowers so that she can take part in the May Day celebration. Her wicked stepmother prevents her excursion by forcing her to complete many more chores than usual. The heroine’s stepsister, a selfish and lazy girl called Gudrun, goes out instead. Gudrun refuses to help three small animals who in distress. Meanwhile, Sylvie finishes the chores and runs to the fields in search of flowers. She gives aid to the same three animals Gudrun refused, and they all promise to help her someday. Sylvie is captured by an evil with who takes Gudrun to be crowned Queen of the May. The small animals rescue Sylvie, just as they promised, and she becomes Queen of the May herself.
I love that story has so many unique characteristics. Sylvie has only one foolish stepsister, for example. The evil with helps the wicked child, and only Sylvie’s kindness saves her in the end. And it all centers around the traditional May Day celebration. I also appreciate so many traditions that Krill protects. The stepsister will not help the animals because she feels rushed, lazy, and selfish, while Sylvie stops even though she is running out of time.
I must also say that the illustrator, Patience Brewster, did an excellent job of maintaining the old fairy tale feel with the pictures ever becoming typical. For example, Gudrun’s dress looks like a sloppier version of a 1920’s flapper outfit, Sylvie’s may dress looks like a 1930’s A line country dress, and many town people are dressed in Victorian American garb. The colors are simple, and the faces easy to read, so that children are given the chance to add detail in their minds to everything except for the emotions of the characters.
Overall, I would give this book a B, since I am in a grading mood. To be an A, I would have liked more detail in the text, stronger descriptive language, and more detail in the landscape. This is a very good book, and one that I am sure many other children would enjoy.
Title: Queen of the May
Author: Steven Kroll
Illustrator: Patience Brewster
Genre: Fairy Tale Picture Book
Recommended Reader: 6-10 year olds