With winks broad enough to sprain his entire face, Wilkins offers a tale of the queen’s outing to London’s Natural History Museum with a reluctant corgi in tow.
Mr. Brown trotting gloomily at her heels, the queen impulsively stumps out of the palace one snowy day, marching past crowds of oblivious tourists and passersby. She’s off to see the museum’s spectacular dinosaur fossils—rendered in the scribbly illustrations with wide eyes and friendly smiles rather than bony skulls. Dismissing the asteroid-impact theory, she ruminates over why they went extinct. (Aliens ate them? Maybe they were “overwhelmed by the stink of their own poo”?) Continuing her woolgathering, she parks herself on a bench and nods off, dreaming of racing at Ascot…atop a Megalosaurus. But she’s “pipped at the post” by none other than Mr. Brown, riding a Carnotaurus. How annoying! Later a guard wakes her: “I hope you’ve got a nice, warm home to go back to?” “Thank you, yes yes I do. That’s very kind of you to enquire.” In the colored-pencil cartoons, done with childlike simplicity, Mr. Brown’s changing expressions provide silent, eloquent commentary. This is a British import, with Briticisms intact.
Young readers on either side of the pond who are tempted to do as the queen does should not be dissuaded. (Picture book. 6-8)