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THE BROKEN BIKE BOY AND THE QUEEN OF 33RD STREET by Sharon G. Flake

THE BROKEN BIKE BOY AND THE QUEEN OF 33RD STREET

By Sharon G. Flake (Author) , Colin Bootman (Illustrator)

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: May 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4231-0032-4
Publisher: Disney-Jump at the Sun

Fifth-grader Queen narrates this tale of classroom discord and community connections. She’s pampered—awash in nice clothes, crowns and mirrors. She fancies her turreted home a castle—though it’s just across from the John Howard projects. Father playfully reinforces her royal status at home, but at school, Queen’s default demeanor is mean and smart-alecky. Other children resent her, and her attitude rankles her teacher. Queen’s infuriated by Leroy, a brave, self-possessed project kid who reeks (of cats, it turns out), lies like a rug (it seems), yet charms both classmates and Queen’s kind parents. Queen’s initial efforts—to prove Leroy a liar and hide behind her prissy self-preoccupation—transform into genuine attempts, aided by Mother, to be kind. Fascinated by Leroy’s friend and neighbor, retired actor Cornelius Junction III, Queen works for his favor, earning entrée into his cluttered, cat-filled apartment. There, like Leroy, she discovers Africa in Cornelius’s artifacts and stories. First-person narration seems an odd choice, making identification with Queen (unlikable for much of the novel) problematic. Nonetheless, her progress feels real. (Fiction. 8-12)