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The Marble Queen
     

The Marble Queen

by Stephanie J. Blake
 

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Freedom Jane McKenzie isn’t good at following the rules. She’s good at getting into trouble — and playing marbles. All she wants is to enter the marble competition at the Autumn Jubilee and show the boys in the neighborhood that she’s the best player. First, Freedom has to convince her mother to let her enter. But there’s a new baby on

Overview

Freedom Jane McKenzie isn’t good at following the rules. She’s good at getting into trouble — and playing marbles. All she wants is to enter the marble competition at the Autumn Jubilee and show the boys in the neighborhood that she’s the best player. First, Freedom has to convince her mother to let her enter. But there’s a new baby on the way, Freedom’s daddy is drinking too much, her little brother is a handful, and her mother is even more difficult than usual. Freedom learns that when it comes to love, friendship, and family, sometimes there are no rules. Set in 1959, The Marble Queen is a timeless story about growing up.

“I wanted to stay with Freedom and her oh-so-real family forever. I wanted to keep watching her play marbles with the boys. And I wanted just one more visit with the kind but eccentric next-door neighbor. Blake has combined the fascinating world of childhood marble-playing with the ups and downs of perfectly realistic characters. A winner!” — Barbara O’Connor, author of How to Steal a Dog and Greetings from Nowhere

“Rich with historical details, The Marble Queen will pull you back to 1959, but Freedom Jane McKenzie is a protagonist for all time. Whether she’s knee-deep in family struggles or proving to the world she has what it takes to play marbles with the boys, Freedom’s voice rings out with determination, humor, and warmth.” — Nan Marino, author of Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1959 Idaho Falls, Freedom Jane McKenzie’s dream is to win the marble competition at the Autumn Jubilee, but several obstacles stand in this spirited 10-year-old’s way. First is her pregnant mother, who insists that shooting marbles is for boys and argues constantly with Freedom’s heavy-drinking father and their crabby neighbor, Mrs. Zierk. Then there are the boys themselves—including Freedom’s former best friend, Daniel—who exclude her from their shootouts. As summer ends and school begins, Freedom continues to resist the conventions that say what girls should and shouldn’t do, while forming an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Zierk and beginning to see that people are more complicated than they appear, including her own parents. Blake’s debut flourishes in its smalltown details and in Freedom’s amusing observations—this nostalgic, anecdotal story is more about the journey than the destination. However, the marble contest has a surprising conclusion that dovetails well with Freedom’s growth over the course of the novel, and while not everything is neatly resolved, Blake’s plot lines conclude in an organic and pleasing way. Ages 10–up. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
Freedom Jane McKenzie, 10, has written her "Last Will and Testimony," and in it, she passes her most treasured worldly possession, her bag of marbles, on to her best friend, Daniel. That would be fine, except Daniel has come to the sad realization that sixth-grade boys should probably primarily be associating with boys, not playing marbles with girls, even talented ones like Freedom. In fact, nearly all of the marble-playing boys have decided they don't want to play with her. Meanwhile, she's set her sights on winning the marbles competition at the Autumn Jubilee. Her mother strongly disapproves. But her mother has a few more issues to deal with besides marbles: Freedom's father's drinking has begun to control his life and theirs, and she's due to have a baby any day now. Blake's debut novel, lovingly set in 1959 Idaho, gently reminds readers that some things never change: Growing up was a challenge in the 1950s, and it remains so. Incorporating the lingo of marble-playing, which will be unfamiliar to most readers, adds a mildly exotic flavor to Freedom's entertaining tale. Freedom's voice, nicely captured in her first-person narration, is often droll and never boring. This one is for keepsies, and it would be perfect paired with a how-to book on marble games. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780761462279
Publisher:
Amazon Childrens Publishing
Publication date:
12/18/2012
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile:
630L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Stephanie J. Blake loves black jellybeans. She is scared of the dark. She reads lots of books. She’s a terrible driver. She eats chocolate. A lot. Sometimes she has déjà vu, and she likes it. Her middle name is Jane. The Marble Queen is her first book.

When she’s not in front of the computer, she can be found in her backyard in Colorado with her husband, their three boys, and their two dogs. If she weren’t a writer, she’d be a country singer. Or maybe a pastry chef.

Stephanie is also a member of the Apocalypsies, a group of children’s and young adult authors debuting in 2012, and Smack Dab in the Middle, a middle grade authors’ blog.

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