The Little Queen

by Meia Geddes (Author) Sara Zieve Miller (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

When her mother and father pass away, the little queen must figure out how to be a little queen. And so she begins her adventures, journeying away from her palace and into the world to determine how she should go about going on.

The little queen soon encounters numerous folks who teach her a thing or two: the book sniffer, the dream writer, and the architect of silence are just a few. Along the way, the little queen finds friendship, love, and meaning in being a leader in her world.

The Little Queen is a magical exploration of self-discovery, vocation, community, and home.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

After her parents die, a young queen ventures forth to learn more about the world and its people in this children’s novella. The queen’s mother and father have died, leaving her all alone in the world. She goes on a journey to see if anyone wants to change places with her; she meets a succession of women with curious professions, including a “book sniffer,” an “architect of solitude,” and a “foreshadowing artist.” (No men, apart from the queen’s father, appear in the book.) The little monarch is interested by each possibility, but after learning more about the jobs, she realizes that she lacks the training, patience, and dedication for any of them. Nevertheless, her trip is valuable, because she’s “learning the language of her world.” In her travels, the queen and the editor of the Digital Dictionary of Sounds, who’s “famous for her very large ears,” fall in love, but the queen still wants to keep exploring. After some important discoveries and realizations, the queen returns home, marries her beloved editor, and invites the women she’s met to collaborate on making new homes for the needy. These include the Open Home of Books and Leaves, the Dreamy Home of Water and Hammocks, and the Textual Home of Body and Language; all are available “if one seeks them in just the right way.” Geddes (Love Letters to the World, 2016) offers an intriguing world in her novella—a dreamlike setting with elements of myths, fables, and poetry. The story’s opening sentence may sound unattractively twee (“On a little world, upon a little hill, a little tear fell down a little face”), but this impression soon vanishes as the book reveals itself to be something original and poetic, with striking grayscale images by Miller. And there’s no preciousness in figures like the “poop encourager”: “I suppose there is something about my voice that…moves…their bowels,” she explains with pride. Geddes has a generous view of people, art, and nature, and it comes across beautifully in this work. A surprising and enchanting parable about personal and artistic growth.

Copyright 2017 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Using a structure and tone reminiscent of The Little Prince, Geddes crafts an allegorical fantasy about a child's search for purpose following the deaths of her parents. The girl, "now a little queen," journeys away from her palace, hoping she might exchange roles with one of the many curious individuals she meets, which include a book sniffer, plant whisperer, and dream writer. "Dreams are always present in their seeming absence," the dream writer tells a crowd that includes the queen. "You just need to find them and coax them out." It's a moody, meandering sojourn, and Geddes's symbolic language underscores the value in a variety of vocations (at one point, the queen meets a "poop encourager" who "always had excelled at motivational speaking"). Following a cataclysmic event, the little queen finds a renewed sense of identity in helping to rebuild her kingdom. Miller's gauzy b&w illustrations echo a dreamlike narrative that explores the inexplicable landscape of grief and the search for meaning. It's a book that young readers and their parents can appreciate and enjoy equally, reading together or independently. Ages 8-12. (BookLife)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
August 20, 2017
Age Range
9 - 12 years

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