'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Review: The Royal Guest

As the world focuses on the arrival of the newest member of the British royal family, it seems like the perfect time revisit one of my favourite books about the new prince’s great grandmother, The Royal Guest.

Times are tough and budgets are tight and the Queen is wondering whether she will be able to afford a visit to Australia. Fortunately, Mrs Jones from Padstow has a spare mattress and is more than happy for Her Majesty to bunk with her while she is in Sydney, as long as her royal guest can bring her own sleeping bag.

The Royal Guest has the wonderful offbeat humour we’ve come to expect from Tohby Riddle’s picture books. I can’t pick which image is my favourite – the Queen pumping up the air bed while she drinks a cup of tea and chats with Mrs Jones, or Her Majesty running over her speeches to the nation in her head while she catches a bus from the airport to Padstow. Perhaps it is Mrs Jones’ children sitting at the end of the Queen’s mattress watching TV while the monarch tries to get a few minutes extra sleep.

I love the humour and 'normality' of the story, particularly as tales of kings and queens, real and imaginary, so often seem so distant from everyday life. This is a story that will appeal to children and adults, with the latter sure to enjoy the 'fish out of water' appeal of the Queen staying over with Mrs Jones and her family.

The royal family is so often associated with pomp and ceremony and formality. The Royal Guest is a delightful reminder that they are real people and I can’t help but wonder whether sitting around a card table with Mrs Jones and her friend playing cards till all hours might actually sound quite appealing to the Queen.

Title: The Royal Guest
Author/Illustrator: Tohby Riddle
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: 2007
Format: Soft Cover
ISBN: 9780143502753
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture book