Image via WikipediaThe Glorious Adventures of the
Reminiscent of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, the children you'll meet in Sunshine Queen are just as curious, brave and adventurous. But in the Sunshine Queen, you'll also get to meet quite a number of similar adults as well! In fact, you'll meet the entire tour group of singers, dancers, a dog act...even a preacher that ultimately made up Bright Lights!
When diphtheria spread through their hometown, Cissy Sissney, Kookie and Tibbie Boden, were sent out of town to ensure their good health. Chaperoned my Miss May March, they were on their way to stay with their former teacher who was now part of the Bright Lights. Cissy parents had met with some very unnatural trouble, so there really was no choice in her relocation. Tibbie who had planned on staying with Cissy, of course, now had to go and Kookie refused to be left behind!
Starting out with little direction, they finally arrived in Salvation, at the temporary home of Miss Loucien, now married and with her family--on a large paddle steamer that had gone through a flood and stranded in a field. They had already faced the first hurdle--finding that Mr. Curlitz (Curly) one of the actors had been imprisoned for profanity. He had been quoting from Shakespeare...
Miss March had had just about enough. Here's what happened:
"Miss May March had harangued the shieriff of Salvation so hard that he had shortened Curly's sentence by four days and released him, just to get her off his doorstep. On and on she had raged about 'sacred English literature,' 'small-minded, small-town busybodies,' and 'wilful ignorance.' Even Curly had been unable to poke a quotation in edgeways. As a result he was on his way home to the bosom of the Bright Lights Theater Company."
And all the adventure that was to come!
Soon, rain poured into that place and the large boat started to move. They quickly started worrying about the fact that the boat had been snagged and would be open for the water to pour in. And as they searched, that's when they saw the alligator... who turned out to be a man, the engineer...and so much more...
As the boat was now moving, thought quickly turned to "what about having a floating theatre?" Plans moved quickly and auditions began. The three children were doing the hiring. Miss Loucien declared that if the children liked the acts, then everybody would! And after so much damage from high waters, the people on the river needed them:
"What the Sunshine Queen delivered to the neighborhood was the possibility of being happy again--not just dry or back to normal, but happy with the prospect of something coming around the river bend better than a flash flood..."
I thoroughly enjoyed all of the unique characters, but especially enjoyed the thinking of the preacher who carried a gun. For not everybody was happy to see that group of strangers. "They'll be back presently," said Elder Slater grimly. "Sure as the Four Horsemen of the Appollyclips. Fulla death and pestilence." McCaughrean successfully takes readers back into the period with adventures, concerns, and problems that were prevalent at that time. Then she adds the flavor of the circus, the theatre, a showboat, and the life along the river to arrive at a totally entertaining package of delight, wit and excitement. High recommended for children and adults alike!
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