cover image Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine

Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine

Gloria Whelan, illus. by Nancy Carpenter. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4169-2753-2

Queen Victoria is ready to break free from the constraints of life at the top (including literal ones, like corsets) and take a swim in the ocean. But that would never do given the mores of the era named after her—until her beloved husband Albert hits on a solution: a covered wooden cart with an undressing room that can be rolled into the sea, allowing the swimmer to discreetly enter the water. “No one will get so much as a peep,” Albert assures her, “except for the creatures down in the deep.” Whelan’s (Homeless Bird) rhyming bounds along with a crackle worthy of Gilbert and Sullivan, and Carpenter’s (Big Bear’s Big Boat) digital drawings are sublime. Her portrait of a loving marriage (which includes a scene of the Queen and Her Consort canoodling—in their nightgowns!) is every bit as wonderful as the busier scenes in which Albert (with assists from the couple’s many children) devises his contraption. But the finest image is the penultimate, which finds an ecstatic Victoria gliding through the lapis water in her swimming costume. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)