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The Marble Queen Kindle Edition

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Length: 187 pages
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Age Level: 10 - 15
Grade Level: 5th - 10th

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1959 Idaho Falls, Freedom Jane McKenzie’s dream is to win the marble competition at the Autumn Jubilee, but several obstacles stand in this spirited 10-year-old’s way. First is her pregnant mother, who insists that shooting marbles is for boys and argues constantly with Freedom’s heavy-drinking father and their crabby neighbor, Mrs. Zierk. Then there are the boys themselves—including Freedom’s former best friend, Daniel—who exclude her from their shootouts. As summer ends and school begins, Freedom continues to resist the conventions that say what girls should and shouldn’t do, while forming an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Zierk and beginning to see that people are more complicated than they appear, including her own parents. Blake’s debut flourishes in its small town details and in Freedom’s amusing observations—this nostalgic, anecdotal story is more about the journey than the destination. However, the marble contest has a surprising conclusion that dovetails well with Freedom’s growth over the course of the novel, and while not everything is neatly resolved, Blake’s plotlines conclude in an organic and pleasing way. --Publisher's Weekly, November, 2012

From School Library Journal

Hopefully this engaging first novel won’t be the only book about Freedom Jane McKenzie, because she is one likable gal. The writing is fluid, rich with description yet accessible, and the author deftly weaves together multiple layers of conflict. The characters are fully developed and endearing, particularly 10-year-old Freedom. She is spunky and determined to keep beating the neighborhood boys at marbles even though her mother insists she should act more like a girl. She’s also a hoot, with hilariously bad impulses. Her mom has many rules she expects her daughter to follow, which leads, of course, to a lot of head-butting. Freedom’s father is a rascal with a big heart. He tries to do well by his family but is not always successful. The book brims with poignancy and humor as the McKenzies make mistakes, some serious, others that are laugh-out-loud funny. This family is as real as it gets. Readers will hurt for their downfalls and cheer their love, loyalty, and triumphs. The story is set in Idaho Falls in 1959, but Blake maintains such a good balance between period details and the overarching issues of family dynamics and growing up that Freedom’s travails will ring true with today’s tweens. Terrific.–School Library Journal, January 2013

Product Details


More About the Author

Stephanie J. Blake loves black jellybeans. She is scared of the dark. She reads lots of books. She's a terrible driver. Her favorite color is blue. She eats chocolate. A lot. Sometimes she has déjà vu, and she likes it. Her middle name is Jane.

The Marble Queen is her first book.
Visit her online: www.themarblequeen.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Janel Rodriguez on December 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stephanie J. Blake is a writer to watch. THE MARBLE QUEEN is so skillfully written that I expect it will soon be recognized in literary circles--AND I smell awards on the horizon. Strong characterizations, a distinct and wonderful voice, realistic scenarios, and details that had me tasting food, feeling sleepy in church, and wanting to buy a pack of marbles asap! It really brought me right back to the world of childhood and how a child perceives the world around her. As this book is set in the last half of 1959, I enjoyed reading the historical touches as well. Ms. Blake is an emerging talent and her debut novel was a VERY satisfying read. Highly Recommended!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rebekah VINE VOICE on April 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book had a promising premise, so I ordered it to read with my 10 yr old at bedtime. Yes, we still enjoy times together reading before she heads off to dreamland. The story started off well; we liked Freedom and her interesting take on life. Being set in a different time period added charm as well.

However, both of us became slowly discouraged as the story progressed. Specifically, Freedom's mom has a frequently negative attitude that rubbed me as disrespectful and depressing. Also, her father's drinking is off-putting. It seemed like every chapter ended on a down note. This is not exactly the type of mood either of us want to be in when we're heading to sleep, and eventually, by the time we'd finished Chapter 7 (out of 18) we stopped reading it together, finding ourselves gravitating to other reads.

Recognizing these story elements are not only real life, but generally handled fairly well by the author, I did encourage my daughter to finish the book in her own time during the day. She did so, but was not enthusiastic about it when she finished. I, too, found the remainder of the story to be somewhat lackluster. Not bad at all, just not as encouraging as the other children's books we favor.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J.Prather TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Marble Queen tackles a lot of big issues for a small book aimed at the 10 to 12 year old set, and for the most part it handles them all very well. Freedom McKenzie is a fifth grader in 1959 Idaho Falls, and the one thing she does better than everyone else is play marbles. Unfortunately, girls in 1959 Idaho Falls don't play games with boys! During a time when women's roles were pretty narrowly defined, Freedom's struggle to become Marble Queen and convince her mother that girls can do anything they put their minds to makes for an engaging and inspiring story of triumph that will resonate with young readers.

Apart from Freedom's struggle for gender equality on the playground, there are a lot of other things playing out here as well. Freedom's father is a drinker, and the times when she is disappointed by a father she so idolizes are sensitively and accurately portrayed. One of the most powerful moments in the book is when Freedom asks her mother if her father is a drunk and her mother is forced to answer yes. Freedom is witness to parental fights, and her father's struggle towards recovery. What is always clear throughout the family's struggles is that they all love each other dearly.

Poverty plays a role in this heartfelt story as well as the politics of the time. The author does a great job of setting the scene and transporting the reader back to a time when Communists were behind every corner and beehive hairdos were all the rage. It's a fascinating glimpse into history, and if this adult reader spotted a few inconsistencies, they were nothing that would detract from the story for the average young reader. The author's deft handling of significant emotional issues and family dynamics, the complete character development for all characters involved, and dialogue that just sings all mark this as an enthusiastic recommend for kids ages 10-12.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Emily J. Morris VINE VOICE on March 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I began this book, I was expecting a nice little bit of children's literature set just enough in the past to be entertaining with a bright, heartfelt story (and yes, tragedy could also be a part of it). I also was excited about the setting, having frequented Idaho Falls often enough when attending university in Rexburg. And when Freedom began recounting her tale in the most charming voice, I was sure I would be hooked.

Boy, was I wrong. I may have technically read this in one sitting, but I was darn near the end before I realized nothing much had happened and what had happened had in no way touched me. Despite its happy ending, I look back at this story with "what a sad little book".

And this is a story that should have worked. Freedom is a little girl growing up in Idaho Falls. Her mother is pregnant with a third baby, her father is an alcoholic, and her little brother is always getting her into trouble. Adding to this drama is the fact her best friend is no longer her friend and she desperately wants to enter a marble competition. Unfortunately, these story lines are not explored to their best benefit and Freedom's life just putters along as she stoically tells of events. The marble competition? Pretty much in the background. Her father's alcoholism and her parents' faltering marriage? Just sad, and not very well dealt with as far as storytelling is concerned.

I do like Freedom's voice and much can be said about Ms. Blake's writing, but that's about it. Other than Freedom, the other characters' were undeveloped. The storytelling was a little too meandrous without the charm that can be attached to such style.

If Ms.
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