by John and Katherine Paterson
Harper Collins, 2004, 32 pages
reviewed by Jeanette Dykstra
I hate blueberries but I loved this book.
In this true story set in Lee, Massachusetts in 1943, a small boy dreams of doing great and heroic things. His whole family is involved in various ways in aiding the war effort but he is repeatedly told that he is too small to be of any use.
Then the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina, who had to leave her country because of the Nazi occupation, comes to spend the summer just down the road. William wonders about the queen. Does she wear her crown all the time? How about her scepter? If only he could help the queen in some way, like the knights of old used to do. One day while helping his father pick (and eat) blueberries an idea occurs to him. He will take some blueberries to the queen. Maybe he will even get to see her. And when William is ushered into her majesty’s presence, by princess Juliana, he finds the queen “a plump, white-haired lady in a regular old dress.” She is disguised as a grandma!
As a former primary teacher I have read many, many (and I do mean many) books to children so I know what they like, and they would love this one. As a bonus, adults of Dutch descent will love the story too, and will really appreciate the gorgeous illustrations.
Though this book was published in 2004 it really is a classic, and should be added to your oldies but goodies list. It is on mine.