Review Blog

Mar 18 2019

Queen Celine by Matt Shanks

cover image

Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781760650346.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Beach, Power, Environment. Celine loves coming to the beach. Here she can be the queen of all that she surveys, wanting to build a rock wall to protect and keep safe all the animals that she sees in the rock pools. She builds the wall, and helps the little creatures come inside. Here they are safe from the vagaries of the sea, safe from the other creatures who may want to eat them, safe from the marauding seagulls always hovering overhead.
She surveys her kingdom, stunningly shown in soft watercolours, insisting that she is the best leader the world has ever known, and pleased that in her world things will never change.
But the water becomes murky, the seagrass no longer waves, some of the creatures move out.
Queen Celine looks at the other kingdoms on the beach. The leaders are happy and joyous, their subjects happy and laughing and she notices they do not have a wall or fortress, hers is the only one. She begins to demolish her fortress, pulling down the stones, and is surprised to see many creatures coming along the beach towards her kingdom. She welcomes them all, and as other children on the beach come to play with her, she welcomes them as well.
When she returns home she leaves a sign on the beach saying that everyone is welcome.
A cautionary tale of the perils of isolation, the building of the wall on the beach actually harms those inside the wall, not only repelling people outside the wall, but by stopping change within undermines life for those inside.
A wondrous parallel for the isolationist policies seen around the world, readers will recognise the ideas of openness and being welcoming to people coming to their shores, and be aware that some countries are building physical walls, while others have more subtle restrictions about their borders.
Readers will love looking at the range of creatures illustrated on each page, recalling their own adventures when visiting the beach. Scroll down for activities from the publisher.
Fran Knight

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