The Queen's Shadow: A Story about How Animals See by Cybèle Young is an informational picture book which combines the science of animal eyesight into a clever whodunit involving a proud queen. It is during the Queen's Ball, at which “society's most important nobility” are in attendance (all of whom are animals), that a “major crime has been committed”: the queen's shadow has been stolen! Mantis Shrimp, the Royal Detective, takes the lead in the investigation to find the perpetrator, and one by one the animal suspects defend their innocence. From a shark and a snake to a dragonfly and a goat, each creature's testimony explains their version of the scene of the crime based on their own unique eyesight, while the finely textured and detailed artwork illustrates the ballroom as viewed by that animal. In sidebars to the story, the author provides factual information about how the eyesight of each animal works, and why. As each animal's perspective sheds new light on the mystery, it becomes clear to children that there are many different ways to see what goes on in the world.
The Queen’s Shadow is a visually enthralling book. The illustrations are frankly fantastic, and while the set up and concussion of the mystery that sets the stage for the informational portion of the book is a little flimsy, I for the book itself to be interesting. I liked the tidbits of facts, and then the more in depth explanations, of how different animals see the world. There is an explanation of how our eyes work, as well as background information on each animal described in the story. I appreciated the more in depth glossary at the end of the book. There is some humor, and wonderful illustrations, to keep the reader engage with the fairly sophisticated book. I am not sure of the niche audience that would simply adore the book, but I do think that the combination of aspects in the book will appeal in different ways to many different people.
The Queen’s Shadow is an interesting blend of animal information, mystery, and humor all bundled up with eye catching art work. This might be the book to engage more reluctant readers in an animal science class, or to encourage an animal enthusiast to step up and stretch their reading skills. This is a unique book, one I have no real comparison for, with is special in and of itself.