I just love Queen Abigail the Wise! It’s a fabulous book by Grace Brooks for 8 to 12 year old girls. Orthodox Christian girls will especially appreciate it, I think, because they’re not used to seeing themselves in books. And the book can certainly be read and enjoyed by boys (if they’re willing to read a book with a girl on the cover) and by chidren who are not Orthodox Christians. Any child who enjoys the Babysitters Club books or the Friends Forever series will like Queen Abigail the Wise.
A Real Story with Real Characters
The story is about a ten-year-old girl named Abigail, and her friends. They’re stuck at church every Tuesday night during Lent, while their parents are at choir rehearsal or flower committee or the like. So what are you going to do? Abigail forms them into a club, the Every Tuesday Girl’s Club, with the goal of helping people. She’s got another goal, too, but she doesn’t share that goal with her friends. And she’s not the only girl in the group who is keeping her private business to herself.
Although the story takes place during Lent, and a lot of the action happens at church, the story is most definitely not about Lent, or about the church. It’s very much about Abigail and her friends, and how they try to solve their problems. The church and the season do matter – but they’re the setting, not the story. This isn’t a Sunday school lesson disguised as a story. It’s a real story, with characters facing real challenges, and growing and changing through the events that happen around them and the choices they make.
Every girl in the Every Tuesday Girls Club is a distinct (and delightful!) individual. Sometimes, in a book, characters start to blend together. You meet all the dwarves in The Hobbit, but do you really know which is who? In Queen Abigail the Wise, you get to know the girls pretty quickly, and you always know which one is speaking or acting.
The adults in the story are less well drawn than the girls. They’re not like the invisible adults in a Charlie Brown television special. They’re solid enough. But they’re not the focus of the story, so they (quite appropriately) get less time on stage.
And there are a few boys in the story, but they’re even more minor characters than the adults. (This book most definitely passes the Bechdel test.)
A Teensy Quibble
I have only one quibble with the book: A particular scene towards the end of the book might cause a child to worry about who might be told what they confess. The scene in question is essential to the story. From the point of view of the narrative, it’s exactly what needs to happen. But, without giving too much away, if you give this book to your daughter or your goddaughter, you’ll want to make sure she understands that no priest will ever tell anyone what she confesses. As Father Andrew tells Abigail, your confession is confidential.
17 essential picture books for Orthodox Christian kids: If you’re looking for picture books that include stories about Orthodox Christian people and traditions, you’ll find them on this list.
Disabilities and Special Needs in the Church: Some people are uncomfortable around people with disabilities. They don’t know what to do or say. You can get some advice here, from people with disabilities, to make it easier.
Justinian and Theodora: A Love Story: St. Theodora, the wife and co-ruler with St. Justinian the Great, is one of my very favorite saints.