Blake, Stephanie. The Marble Queen
18 Decemeber 2012, Amazon Children's Publishing
In 1959, Freedom Jane McKenzie is frequently in trouble for getting dirty and tearing her dresses, which makes her pregnant mother unhappy with her. Freedom is a tomboy, and her mother is trying to make her more ladylike, since she is starting fifth grade. The one thing that gets Freedom in the most trouble is also the thing she does best-- playing marbles. Her mother thinks this is just for boys, and the boys she has been playing with, especially her best friend Daniel, think that as well. There are bigger problems in her life, however-- her father has been drinking more and more, her mother is trying to make ends meet, and her next door neighbor, Mrs. Zierk, becomes ill not long after Freedom decides she is interesting to be around. Freedom would love to play in the Autumn Festival marble tournament, since the $100 prize would come in handy, but it's hard to practice when she has been forbidden to play.
Strengths: The cover is excellent-- the girl looks sort of '50s but not overly so. The crown is a nice touch. The writing in this book was excellent-- flowed beautifully, kept my interest, went down very smoothly. I've read a few things lately that were NOT well written, so it's great to read something that shows some real craftsmanship.
Weaknesses: This is a bit young for my students, and might be a bit of a hard sell. Girls today are not going to really understand why Freedom's mother objects to her marble playing.