Saturday, July 12, 2014

Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine by Gloria Whelan -- ADVISABLE

Whelan, Gloria Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. PICTURE BOOK. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014. $17.99. Content: PG.

This amusing picture book shows readers a little-known facet of Queen Victoria's life: her urge to swim in the ocean, the social laws she would break by doing so, and how her husband finally devised a plan that let her take a dip. This fancifully-described true story includes a bibliography, a picture of the bathing machine, and an author's note with more information about Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and the machine.

This is a fun idea for a picture book, and it brings a piece of history to life in an interesting way. It would be a great opener into discussions of monarchs, or of social conventions. As often happens in rhyming picture books, the rhythm is thrown off in a few places, but it flows fairly well throughout most of the book. While some nudity is hinted at -- its avoidance, after all, is the crux of the story -- the reader never sees more than a bare arm or knee.

EL -- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Caryn

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