Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Reading Through History: Queenie Peavy by Robert Burch (1966)

Queenie Peavy is living during the Great Depression, during which time her father is also incarcerated. Unable to cope with the way people treat her based on her father's bad behavior, Queenie acts out quite a lot, especially at school. Only when she decides to stop worrying about what others think can she start to reform herself into the kind of person others enjoy spending time with. 

Like this author's 1965 novel, D.J.'s Worst Enemy, this is a bit of a character-building story designed to show kids how to take responsibility for their own behavior and to begin acting properly because they want to and not just because someone else says they must.  While D.J.'s Worst Enemy felt somewhat boring to me, however, Queenie is such a well-developed character that I was completely engaged the entire time I was reading. Burch does a good job of bringing out Queenie's personality both through her own thoughts and dialogue and through the reactions of other characters. 

Enjoying Queenie so much made it very easy to swallow the moral of the story. Though I often dislike books with clear agendas, this one does a nice job of helping to provide character education for kids without preaching at them or sugarcoating childhood. In fact, I think this book provides a much-needed reality check for today's hyper-offended culture. Queenie learns that she can choose not to be offended by the words and deeds of others, and learning this frees her from feelings of constant anger and frustration. I hope my kids will be at least a little bit like Queenie in that respect.

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