cover image The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen

The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen

Geraldine McCaughrean. Harper, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-200806-0

McCaughrean continues the story of Cissy and Kookie from Stop the Train! (2003) with this tall-tale adventure set at the end of the 19th century. A diphtheria outbreak has already claimed the lives of several children in Cissy's small Oklahoma town when a much-loved former teacher offers temporary shelter aboard the Sunshine Queen, a paddle steamer shipwrecked on the banks of the Missouri. This sounds ideal to Cissy, whose mother has just decreed an end to her schooling%E2%80%94it's time to work in the family's store. In the company of their stern current teacher, Cissy, Kookie, and the beautiful Tibbie join the Bright Lights Theater Company for one dramatic triumph (followed by narrow escape) after another. McCaughrean writes vividly%E2%80%94you believe Cissy's pain when the loop of her shop apron suddenly feels "like a hangman's noose"%E2%80%94and there is plenty of bawdy and slapstick comedy. The huge number of characters may make this a challenging read for those unfamiliar with the first book; the use of obscure (hoicked?) and invented (spackfacious?) words, plus frequent but mystifying biblical allusions, probably push this to an older audience. Ages 10%E2%80%93up. (June)