The Queen in the Cave by Júlia Sardá. Candlewick Studio, 2022. 9781536220544
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
What did you like about the book? Franca has a funny feeling one day, which leads her to take her two sisters, Carmella and Tomasina, over the garden gate, through the nettles, to a strange forest “full of secrets just waiting to be discovered!” Her little sisters are worried about the sounds and sights at first, but Franca’s confidence is contagious, and together the sisters find fantastical flora and fauna, like a dream. They have tea with a spider in her web, join the ants at work in their maze, dance with the rats at Big Mama Rat’s funeral, and more. When Franca meets the queen of this strange and wonderful world – who is her identical twin, but dirty! – she decides to stay. Little Tomasina gets hungry, so Carmela leads her back home to a delicious lasagna supper, a warm bath and a soft bed, where the dirty queen Franca soon joins them and they all fall asleep.
This longer picture book conjured a wonderful fantasy world akin to Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are for me. Júlia Sardá’s gorgeous art summons the mystery and beauty of a wild world, with more familiar animals inhabiting it. Fine lined details are fun to examine – a flock of birds, some wearing fezzes, and including a few flying fish, little star-headed creatures carrying sparklers that follow the girls on their journey, and even the eclectic home they live in, with strange furniture and art. A reader can get lost in the mesmerizing dreamlike world of the three sisters.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? For little readers who enjoy an almost-scary world of dreamlike fantasy, and who like longer stories, ages 4-7.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Near the top
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: May 18, 2022