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Children's Nonfiction General

Queen's Shadow, The

A Story About How Animals See

illustrated by Cybele Young

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2015
General, General, Anatomy & Physiology
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2015
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 7 to 11
  • Grade: 2 to 6
  • Reading age: 7 to 11


In this informational picture book, award-winning author and illustrator Cybèle Young interweaves the science of animal eyesight into a clever whodunit involving a haughty 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. A section on how human vision works, background on each of the animals mentioned in the story and a glossary are provided at the back of the book. This is a unique and sophisticated book unlike any other. It would be an excellent resource for life science lessons on animal and human characteristics. The sly humor, engaging storytelling and layered narrative also make it a terrific mystery read.

About the author

Cybèle Young is an award-winning artist who exhibits her exquisite paper sculpture (Japanese paper printed with etched copperplates) internationally. She has illustrated several books for children, including Pa’s Harvest by Jan Andrews, which was nominated for the Governor General’s Award (Illustration) and Jack Pine by Christopher Patton. She has recently written and illustrated A Few Blocks, a Kirkus Best Children’s Book and winner of the Alcuin Award; Ten Birds, winner of the Governor General’s Award (Illustration); and A Few Bites, which received starred reviews in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and was named an OLA Best Bet. Cybèle lives with her family in Toronto./p

Cybele Young's profile page


  • Winner, Outstanding Children's Book, Animal Behavior Society
  • Winner, Lane Anderson Award, Fitzhenry Family Foundation - United States
  • Winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre
  • Winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre

Editorial Reviews

... at once simple and surreal in a way that perfectly befits a storybook.—National Post

It's a perfect visual match for the story, which mashes together genres and tropes in a way that is absorbing and highly original.—Quill & Quire

Wonderfully odd and cleverly informative.—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

This is a picture book that will grab the interest of visually and scientifically inclined older children, and adults may learn some new stuff, as well.—The New York Times

This engrossing and original work lends itself to multiple readings. An excellent addition to science collections.—School Library Journal

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