90/100 (9.0 out of 10)
The False Queen by Tuula Pere is an imaginative, fantastical tale by prolific children's author Tuula Pere!
This full-length middle-grade children's novel covers such topics as genuineness versus superficiality, friendship, forgiveness, and imagination. The book follows Viola, a spunky little fairy who arrives on a mysterious island known as Swing Island, wearing a crown on her head, she is mistaken by the locals as a queen from a foreign land sent to right the wrongs on the island.
Rather than dismissing this, Viola goes along with this façade and plays along, pretending to be a great and wise queen. She gives legs (and wings) to the adage “fake it 'til you make it” by doing such things as making clothes and decorations out of spare materials lying around like tablecloths. However, it's only a matter of time before the people find out who she really is...
Some other interesting characters to follow are Daniel, basically the Heimdall of Swing Island with a side hobby for play writing, and Selma, Viola's servant and loyal friend. This book is actually full of really lovable, likable characters. Interesting enough, even Viola remains a likable protagonist despite her mild mischievousness. Who doesn't wish they could venture into a new land where they'd be treated like royalty, adored, and admired? However, this book is quick to remind readers that lies and deceptions can only take you so far. Time will always tell. The truth will always come out in the end. That's why it's so important to be truthful, transparent, and honest, especially to yourself. Who are you when the mask and the crown come off? That's what matters.
This book does have many real-world applications in teaching children to be honest and truthful. In an Instagram and social media laden world, it's also a powerful reminder for readers to be true to who they are and genuine rather than following for the fakeness and artificiality of supposed millionaires and supermodels online. You are beautiful, great, and wonderful just the way you are, and there's no need to change who you are just to fit the ideal. That's a powerful message for kids and adults alike.
In the context of all these other children's books we've read this season, it's interesting to note that this book has many of the same themes and vibes as Dragon's Breath. In that book, a female dragon comes through a kingdom, receiving a lot of positive attention by spreading false hope and lies surrounding her presence.
The dragon, unlike Viola, does prove to be malevolent while not entirely evil, allowing her jealousy to drive her to ruin the crops of the kingdom with her breath. Viola, on the other hand, never commits an act that destructive and wicked, however, she's a similar character in her insecurities and desire for attention even if it means deceiving people. It's interesting to note that while the dragon in Dragon's Breath had quite a disappointing and abrupt ending in just leaving the situation, Viola at least is given a chance to learn from her mistakes and atone for them.
All in all, this is a worthwhile read in the middle-grade children's category!
Check it out on Amazon!