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Cover image for A boy named Queen
A boy named Queen
Toronto ; Berkeley : Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2016.
Physical Description:
77 pages ; 20 cm
Evelyn befriends Queen, the new boy in town, who does not seem to get fazed by bullies and lives by his own rules, and soon begins to learn new things about the world and herself.


Call Number
J Cassidy, S.

On Order



Evelyn is both aghast and fascinated when a new boy comes to grade five and tells everyone his name is Queen. Queen wears shiny gym shorts and wants to organize a chess/environment club. His father plays weird loud music and has tattoos.

How will the class react? How will Evelyn?

Evelyn is an only child with a strict routine and an even stricter mother. And yet in her quiet way she notices things. She takes particular notice of this boy named Queen. The way the bullies don't seem to faze him. The way he seems to live by his own rules. When it turns out that they take the same route home from school, Evelyn and Queen become friends, almost against Evelyn's better judgment. She even finds Queen irritating at times. Why doesn't he just shut up and stop attracting so much attention to himself?

Yet he is the most interesting person she has ever met. So when she receives a last-minute invitation to his birthday party, she knows she must somehow persuade her mother to let her go, even if it means ignoring the No Gifts request and shopping for what her mother considers to be an appropriate gift, appropriately wrapped with "boy" wrapping paper.

Her visit to Queen's house opens Evelyn's eyes to a whole new world, including an unconventional goody bag (leftover potato latkes wrapped in waxed paper and a pair of barely used red sneakers). And when it comes time for her to take something to school for Hype and Share, Evelyn suddenly looks at her chosen offering -- her mother's antique cream jug -- and sees new and marvelous possibilities.

Author Notes

Sara Cassidy is a journalist and editor and the author of ten novels for young readers, including A Boy Named Queen. Her books have been selected for the Junior Library Guild, and she has been a finalist for the Chocolate Lily Award, the Bolen Books Children's Book Prize, the Rocky Mountain Book Award, the Diamond Willow Award, the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award, the Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award and the Silver Birch Express Award. Recently, Sara authored the picture book Helen's Birds, illustrated by Sophie Casson. She has also won a National Magazine Award (Gold) for a piece in Today's Parent. She lives in Victoria.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this brisk, insightful story from Cassidy (Not for Sale), the first days of fifth grade prove eye-opening and confidence-building for heroine Evelyn, whose home life is on the strict and staid side. Change is in the air from the outset: during Evelyn's annual end-of-summer trip to the shoe store with her mother, they discover that the local institution has been replaced by a fluorescent-lit emporium called Budget Shoes; Evelyn winds up with a pair of canvas shoes instead of the "stiff leather loafers... that have dug at her ankles every year since kindergarten." At school, there's another new arrival, Queen, who shows up with a pink T-shirt, a dog named Patti Smith, and a name that makes him an instant target for jokes. Queen's breezy self-confidence is revelatory for Evelyn, as is her introduction to Queen's free-spirited parents ("Evelyn realizes she has never touched someone with tattoos. She's never touched a tattoo!"). It's an eloquent celebration of individuality and not hiding one's true self: something that (as Evelyn knows) isn't always simple, but (as Queen knows) actually can be. Ages 8-11. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Quiet and reserved, Evelyn is the product of a strict and structured home life. Newcomer Queen, on the other hand, revels in his uniqueness and remains unfazed by the bullying his name inspires. While the friendship that develops between these two can only be expected, it is Evelyn's emerging acceptance of her own creativity that brings the novella to a satisfying conclusion. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

It's on the first day of fifth grade that Evelyn meets the new boy in town the new boy named, however improbably, Queen the one with the dog named Patti Smith and tattooed parents. Though not quite gender nonconforming, Queen is, nevertheless, different, and because of it, the class bullies give him a hard time, even stealing his lunch. But nothing fazes the placid Queen. How do you stand it? sympathetic Evelyn asks. I put up a force field, he answers. All around me. That way, he explains, the dumb things others say bounce off of it. When Evelyn is invited to Queen's birthday party, she discovers two things: she is the only one Queen has invited, and his father was once a member of a celebrated band. This slender story is a quiet one without much in the way of drama; even the abrupt ending lacks resolution, though the point of accepting the extraordinary is made without too much didacticism. Young readers who enjoy slice-of-life books will groove to this one's peculiar beat.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2016 Booklist