I received this book at no cost from the publisherQueen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis
Published by Walker Books US on June 25, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Middle Grade, Royalty
Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Grade Level: 5 – 9
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Walker Books US (June 25, 2019)
Praise for QUEEN OF THE SEA
The art, reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s style, creates levity during perilous situations. The book is dense with dialogue, often feeling more like a work of prose than a graphic novel. As a result, this complex work will be more accessible to those familiar with graphic novels…Certain to charm sophisticated graphic novel devotees. —School Library Journal (starred review)
Meconis offers an atmospheric alternate history inspired by the childhood and succession of Queen Elizabeth I in this quietly ambitious graphic novel…Art in soft, earthy colors brings this singular story to life in styles ranging from simple line drawings to elaborately styled text illuminations. The island world is richly developed, both in its physical particulars and its close-knit community (fascinating digressions into topics such as convent time, hand gestures used at table, and chess and embroidery flesh out daily life), and Margaret proves herself an endearing heroine with a strong voice full of humor and wonder. Her perspective transforms a storm-wracked rock into a vibrant world of hidden treasures. —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Meconis’ humor and storytelling gifts here wed seamlessly with her evocative pen-and-ink and gouache illustrations, which are rendered in warm earth and sea tones and brim with movement, expressively capturing even Margaret’s interior monologues. With its compelling, complex characters and intrigue-laden plot, this will have readers hoping it’s only the first of many adventures for Meconis’ savvy heroine. —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Weaving faith, love, statecraft, and self-discovery into a tale of palace intrigue relocated to the halls of a convent on a remote island at sea, Dylan Meconis uses the trappings of the history we know to create a high-stakes adventure in an alternate past that feels so detailed and so familiar, you’ll find yourself wondering why you never read about it in school. This beautiful book swept me away from the first page.” —Kate Milford, author of the Greenglass House series
“Dylan Meconis is at the absolute top of her game. A gorgeously rendered, lovingly realized alternate history, full of personal revelations in the midst of political intrigue. A tale of growing up, and of understanding that the world is larger and stranger than it once seemed. (Plus it has a Terrible Recipe for Terrible Gruel.)” —Ben Hatke, author-illustrator of the Zita the Spacegirl series
“This is the book I was always trying to get my hands on in high school that never seemed to materialize. An adventure to lose yourself in, with an attention to historical detail to please the nerdiest among us. I fell easily and completely into this world and its characters, knowing I was safe in Dylan Meconis’s hands, and I’m really excited for more people to find out what I’ve known for a long time—that she is one of a kind.” —Kate Beaton, author-illustrator of Hark! A Vagrant
Cult graphic novelist Dylan Meconis offers a rich reimagining of history in this hybrid novel loosely based on the exile of Queen Elizabeth I by her sister, Queen Mary.
When her sister seizes the throne, Queen Eleanor of Albion is banished to a tiny island off the coast of her kingdom, where the nuns of the convent spend their days peacefully praying, sewing, and gardening. But the island is also home to Margaret, a mysterious young orphan girl whose life is upturned when the cold, regal stranger arrives. As Margaret grows closer to Eleanor, she grapples with the revelation of the island’s sinister true purpose as well as the truth of her own past. When Eleanor’s life is threatened, Margaret is faced with a perilous choice between helping Eleanor and protecting herself.
This story is a wonderful alternative history based on the story of Elizabeth I and how her life intersects with an orphan on the island of Albion. The island is a lonely place for Margaret since there are only the nuns, a priest and a few servants that are dedicated to “whose life or love is at the mercy of the sea,” and of course a cat! Margaret loves the quiet island and the highlight of her life is twice a year visits from a ship and she prays that one day it will deliver a friend.
Lady Cameron and her son, William, are exiled to the island and Margaret and William become fast friends. That is until he leaves and Margaret starts to discover the ugly truth about the island. She really begins to question why she is on the island when Lady Eleanor, is sent there by her sister the queen. The story is interspersed with wonderful drawings that illustrate the day to day life of Margaret. Margaret gets caught up in Eleanor’s intrigue but there seems to be room for this story to continue. I am sure that children who enjoy books about intrigue and history would love this one.
I’ve been writing and illustrating my own stories since the first grade, and I’ve been making comic books since middle school (no, really! Seventh grade was a tough year for me socially, so I had a lot of time to draw). I started my first book-length comic (graphic novel) in high school.
Unlike a lot of people who become professional artists and authors, I didn’t go to art school or a creative writing program in college. Instead, I mostly studied history, literature, philosophy, and French in the College of Letters at Wesleyan University. This means I have a brain full of weird facts, old books, strange art, and the extremely useful ability to read The Tales of Canterbury in the original Middle English. Except for the Middle English bit, it’s all come in very handy for writing and drawing historical fiction and fantasy.
I first started to get paid for making comics when I was still in college, when my first graphic novel was published online. After college, I worked as a graphic designer and visual communications consultant (which means “person who helps teach adults complicated stuff in cool new ways using pictures”). I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies, global charities, technology companies, libraries, and a lot of other interesting organizations. I’ve made illustrations, animations, information graphics and cool presentations, explaining everything from how microchips work to the ways that clean drinking water can help communities in the third world.
For the last ten years, though, I mostly work as a writer, comic book creator and illustrator! Sometimes I make books totally by myself, and sometimes I get to team up with other writers or artists. It can be lots of fun, but it can also be very hard work. Luckily, I never get tired of making new stories.
- What is on your nightstand?
About twenty five different books (seriously…it’s like a Jenga tower…), an e-reader full of fanfic, and hopefully, somewhere in there, my glasses.
- What author would you totally fan?
At some point I’m going to embarrass myself in front of the novelist Molly Gloss. Her prose just cracks my heart open. I would also be a nervous wreck for Patricia C. Wrede, Emil Ferris, Zadie Smith, David Mazzucchelli…I’m extremely lucky to have met quite a few of my favorite authors already, especially those who create children’s fiction and graphic novels.
Comics in particular is a very small industry, so many of the creators I admire the most are also my friends. I send them all a lot of text messages in all caps yelling about how great they are.
- What makes you cringe?
When a prose writer tries to write a graphic novel script for the first time and doesn’t get enough help before it’s sent to an artist and published!
It’s very hard to write comics, harder than it is to write prose. We all have many opportunities to read prose and learn from that, but very few people ever get to read comics scripts. Over half of the words that I write into a script transform into pictures and formatting.
Just about everybody can write (and draw!) great comics if they really want to, but like any other craft, it takes practice and patience. It’s a good idea to take a class, read some books specifically about how graphic novels work, or even better, team up with an experienced comics writer!
- Do you obsessively plot out each point or just go with the flow?
It really depends on the book. Usually I lands somewhere in between being a plotter and a pantser. I like to outline all the major points of the story, but not necessarily every single scene. I like to leave a little bit open to inspiration and experimentation.
In a way, a comics script is more like a very detailed outline than a final product, because the illustration is a kind of writing, too. A script can say “Character X smiles mysteriously” but there’s a lot of room for me to choose how that smile looks and how it’s framed.
- Is there a word you love to use?
I’m very fond of “lovely.” The sound of the word, with those soft l’s and that warm v, matches its meaning so well. It can be an expression of fondness or approval or appreciation all on its own. Lovely! Even when you use it to describe something physically beautiful, it suggests that it’s pleasing or soothing at an emotional level, not just pretty.
I have to word-replace a lot of lovelies in my writing.
This is Teddy. He is a rescue dog, and he loves the beach, head skritches, chicken, and yelling at squirrels.
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