Monday, June 9, 2014

Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine by Gloria Whelan

photo credit

With a beautiful cover like this, how can you not pick it up? This book struck me first with the lovely illustration, second by the historical nature of the story. I knew from the title our family was in for  a rich lesson, and more than a little humor, as well. This storybook did not disappoint. I loved it.

Queen Victoria's dilemma-- thick petticoats, hot summer temperatures, and traditions of the monarchy-- combines into a playful and educational storyline, written in verse. Children from ages 3-12 could really enjoy this story, which is hard to achieve in a picture book. Young ones tack onto rhyme and meter, and the older crowd will be fascinated by this true story of invention, and royalty from another time and place. 

The illustrations are done by Nancy Carpenter, and I'm already going to track down all of her other illustrated books, because Bathing Machine is just beautiful. It has a somber and muted palette, with very scritch-scratchy pen drawing with watercolor atop. It truly is modern with Victorian overtones. The illustrations are synced well with the storyline, and captures the playful and inventive spirit of the story.

Learn about the historical bathing machine, created in 1846 by Victoria's husband Prince Albert in the back of the book, see a photograph of the machine, on display in England, and gather info for more study on the websites and further bibliography provided. Truly a crown jewel on the shelf! 

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