I read a TON of young adult literature. As a middle school reading teacher, it is literally my job to read an insane amount of YA lit and talk about it. I know–it’s a rough life!
So when I saw that Grace Brooks had written and illustrated a book for middle grade girls that had Orthodox themes in it I was pretty excited. And pretty nervous. Would the book be cheesy? Would young readers find it hard to relate to in their everyday lives?
I began reading Queen Abigail the Wise during Holy Week, and I could not put it down. Not only was it a compelling story with great characterization, the Orthodox themes in it were so interesting and profound that I felt it added to my Holy Week experience.
Queen Abigail the Wise
Queen Abigail the Wise tells the story of ten-year-old Abigail and a group of girls who are thrown together at church for no other reason than that they are all the same age. Soon the group decides to help others, and they begin by helping each other solve their own problems. The results are often hilarious, generally touching, and always interesting. The entire book is set during Lent and Holy Week, and those themes pervade the story without seeming moralistic.
Abigail really, really wants to have her own icon of her saint–Queen Abigail. After getting in trouble at church, she finds herself telling her priest about this desire. The wise priests tells her that he will get the icon for her, if she can help others in the church. Unsure of how to do this, she forms the Every Tuesday Girls Club that meets at church each week while their mothers have choir practice. Abigail will have to make some tough choices about friendship and what is most important to her–even if it costs her the icon.
One of my favorite parts of Queen Abigail the Wise is the growing relationship between Abigail and the other girls in the Every Tuesday Girls Club. If you grew up reading The Babysitters Club, you’ll know what I mean. There is just something incredibly appealing to young girls about a group of girls growing and working together. Each girl in the group has distinctive characteristics, and their own unique story and problems. Together, however, they help bring out the best in each other.
I really loved the way that Brooks brings together the themes of each Sunday in Lent and Abigail’s story. The book begins on The Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy and ends on Pascha. As Abigail learns more about the deeper meaning behind the Sundays in Lent, she sees ways that her faith impacts her decisions, desires, and friendship. This intricate interweaving of faith into the story is difficult to pull off without coming across as didactic or preachy. However, it totally works in Queen Abigail the Wise.
I wholeheartedly recommend Queen Abigail the Wise for girls ages 9-12. If you are a Christian, and particularly if you are an Orthodox Christian mother:
-this book would make an excellent addition to your family library
–Queen Abigail the Wise would fit perfectly into any church library or bookstore
-it is fantastic gift for your daughter, granddaughter or goddaughter
–Queen Abigail the Wise would make a beautiful book club book for girls at your church. How fun would it be to read it and then discuss with a tea party!
If you are not Orthodox, I still recommend the book. Any Christian girl who enjoys great storytelling with dynamic characters will appreciate the book. I really hope that there will be more in the series, because I can’t wait for Grace Brooks to release another book about this winsome group of girls!
Do you have any good book recommendations for Orthodox youth?
(I received a free copy of this book in return for my honest review of it. All favorable opinions of good literature are 100% my own.)
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