Written and Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2014
On Wednesday, Thelma was bored.
The plot in a nutshell: A girl invents her new life as a queen.
Because Thelma is bored, she decides to become a queen. She announces her new position, chooses royal pets and sits for a portrait. She hires assistants and a carriage, and then searches for a castle. She looks for a qualified maid and animal trainer. When she starts to feel faint, she remembers that she doesn’t have a royal cook. She keeps acquiring specialists until she realizes that she doesn’t have enough beds for all them and she gives up her crown. But the following Wednesday, she is bored again.
Author/illustrator Gabi Swiatkowska has illustrated several picture books for other authors, but this is her first published book as an author. The story is pretty comical and should resonate pretty easily with imaginative kids. Thelma is creative and comprehensive during her stint at being queen, drawing from her available resources and clearly improvising when she needs to. The artwork has a vintage appearance, but also seems kind of dreamlike, so it’s up to the reader to determine how much of the book is entirely in Thelma’s imagination. My initial response to this book was that it was perhaps a little too quirky for me, but I warmed up to it quickly on subsequent readings. And I really love that the book ends exactly where we started, prompting the reader to wonder what next great adventure Thelma has planned for the following week.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that every life, even the one you think is perfect, has its moments of boredom.