cover image Queen on Wednesday

Queen on Wednesday

Gabi Swiatkowska. FSG/Foster, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-37446-4

“Nothing had happened since Sunday,” Swiatkowska (Please, Papa) writes, painting dark-haired Thelma staring vacantly off into space. On Wednesday, Thelma does what any girl would—she dons the hoop skirt and starched ruffles of a Spanish infanta and proclaims herself queen. With charming imperiousness, Thelma recruits a troupe of sailor-suited boys to serve as her retinue and selects the royal pets, who pop up comically in odd places. Things soon go amiss, and Swiatkowska paints the chaos in a set of formal, oval-framed vignettes. One boy puzzles over the remains of a chandelier that’s been ripped out of the ceiling, while another peers through a telescope at a clogged toilet. As time goes on, the faces of Thelma’s apple-cheeked boy followers show impatience, torpor, and sheer contempt, but the paintings are never exaggerated; they have the quiet authority of Audubon bird portraits. At last the charm of ruling palls for Thelma: “ ‘That’s it!’ she cried. She flung off her royal crown and stomped away.” A witty and eccentric portrait of ego run wild. Ages 3–8. Agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (May)