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.