Top positive review
Queen of the Falls
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on June 18, 2011
Strengths: This book is typical Van Allsburg with an intriguing story, never before told in picture book format. What is especially interesting is that this is a true story. I guess sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. The author starts by putting us at the top of the waterfall with Annie, just as she is about to go over the falls (without telling us who is in the barrel). Then he explains why Annie decided to do such a crazy stunt, she hoped it would make her rich, so she wouldn't have to try to eke out a living as a store clerk or cleaning lady. The same reasons that people do such seemingly crazy stunts today, fame and fortune. The writing is smooth-flowing and tells the story well, but it's the illustrations that make the story stand out. Unfortunately, for Annie she wasn't young and beautiful and as a result the public wasn't interested in hearing her story. The facial expressions are fantastic and show clearly the feelings of the people involved, the spectators, barrel makers, Annie herself, and her 'manager.' Normally I prefer color illustrations, but Van Allsburg's are so superb that color doesn't seem to matter, in fact the black and white seem to help delineate the feeling of the historical era.
Weaknesses: I have to admit, I don't really see any weaknesses in this particular book, except maybe the length. Like many of Van Allsburg's books, this one has a lot of writing, making it more appropriate as a read-a-loud for an older audience.