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The Queen of Water Hardcover – March 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In a desperately poor Andean village in Ecuador, 7-year-old Virginia is sold off by her ind�gena (Indian) parents as a servant to an academic, mestizo family. In her new home, the wife beats her, the husband gropes her, and she is insulted as a longa tonta (stupid Indian). Still, she teaches herself to read and write and begins to perform science experiments in secret. Then, when she is 12, she finally gets a chance to return to her parents: But does she want to? And do they want her? Virginia does travel back to her ind�gena family, but there is not the expected sweet reunion. Ashamed of her illiterate parents and bitter that they gave her away, Virginia is uncomfortable in the family�s mud-walled shack, where she cannot speak the language and hates the hard work. Could she go back to being enslaved in the mestizo family�s clean �prison�? Rooted in Farinango�s true story, the honest, first-person, present-tense narrative is occasionally detailed and repetitive, but it dramatizes the classic search for home with rare complexity and no sentimentality or easy resolutions. Virginia�s conflicts with her birth parents and her employers are heartbreaking, even as she finds a way to attend school and shape a more hopeful future. A moving, lyrical novel that will particularly resonate with teens caught between cultures. Grades 8-12. --Hazel Rochman


Starred Review, Booklist, February 15, 2011:
"A moving, lyrical novel that will particularly resonate with teens caught between cultures."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, May 9, 2011:
"The authors' candid narrative richly depicts Virginia's passage from a childhood filled with demoralization to a young woman who sees her life through new eyes."

Starred Review, School Library Journal, June 2011:
"This is a poignant coming-of-age novel that will expose readers to the exploitation of girls around the world whose families grow up in poverty."


Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385738978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385738972
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,621,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

With a background in cultural anthropology and ESL-teaching, Laura Resau has lived and traveled in Latin America and Europe - experiences that inspired her books for young people. Her latest novel, The Jade Notebook, was praised by School Library Journal for "the lush descriptions, intermittent action sequences, and sprinkling of fantasy [that] all come together to form an engaging reading experience."

Her previous novels - The Queen of Water, Star in the Forest, The Ruby Notebook, The Indigo Notebook, Red Glass, and What the Moon Saw - have garnered many starred reviews and awards, including the IRA YA Fiction Award, the Américas Award, and spots on Oprah's Kids' Book List. Acclaimed for its sensitive treatment of immigration issues, Resau's writing has been called "vibrant, large-hearted" (Publishers' Weekly) and "powerful, magical" (Booklist).

Resau lives with her husband and young son in Colorado. She donates a portion of her royalties to indigenous rights organizations in Latin America.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Steph's Dad on June 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
First let me declare my bias. My daughter edited this book. She brought this talented author to my attention and I have to say that even as an older adult male, she has become my favorite. She reminds me of Harper Lee and this book reminds me of "To Kill a Mockingbird" in that it takes on the prejudices of today's society in a wonderful,revealing and compassionate manner, but from a child's eyes.

I don't want to relate all the books events and spoil it for you, so I'll only say that it tells the true story of a 7-year old indigenous girl pressed into slavery in Ecuador. Despite beatings and unending abuse, the child survives to become a remarkable young adult. Like many good books, it is a story about coming of age, a story of coming to grips with who you are and what you are made of.

Maria Virginia's story is made compelling in its telling. It is enhanced and made real by Resau's nuanced writing. Virginia reminds me of William Ernest Henley's poem, "Invictus" for she certainly has an "unconquerable soul". But, Virginia is also sensitive, intelligent and compassionate. Her many doubts and fears and prejudices are wonderfully resolved in an uplifting and beautifully told ending.

I find one of the most desirable terms in the English language to be "non judgmental". Laura Resau is certainly non judgmental and all her characters are accepting and compassionate of all ethnic and social differences. This is one of the most important things to teach your children. This should be on every teenager's reading list.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Laura Booksnob on September 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
Meet Virginia. She is an Indigenous child in Ecuador who at the age of seven is given to a Mestizo family to care for their child. Virginia's childhood is over quickly as she is forced to cook, clean and babysit while locked in the apartment all day. She expects to be paid for her services and to be able to visit her family on weekends but what happens is quite different. She is beaten on a regular basis, treated with racial insults, and never paid or allowed to see her family. As Virginia grows older she realizes she has forgotten her language and the faces of her family. She is caught in the web of domestic slavery and held in fear.

Eventually the people begin to trust Virginia and that is when she teaches herself to read and write. When she is locked in the house all day she studies and makes plans to leave or call her sister. Virginia is strong and sprited and in some ways is comfortable where she is, with a TV, food, a bed of her own and other luxuries. But she has dreams, big dreams of becoming a singer or actress, dreams of freedom and love, dreams of becoming an educated women. It's these dreams that force Virginia to hatch a plan of escape.

The Queen of Water is a great story of a resilient teen who is able to achieve her dreams. It is based on a true story so it makes the reader aware of the plight of young children who are forced into slavery. People my not realize that there are more people in slavery today than when it was legal 200 years ago. Children are a big part of the slave trade today. Many parents are tricked and think they are sending their children to a better way of life when in reality they are suffering everyday, caught in the web of slavery and just want to come home.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Snowy Gray on March 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Loved this book. I read it a few weeks ago, but it really haunts me. The life that is so different from here in the US and yet the strength of Virginia is so incredible. Resau brings a deftness and lyricism to the writing and Virginia brings the gut-wrenching truth of her history in a unique story along the lines of Horatio Alger's rags to riches tales, but so much richer and thought-provoking. Great book to discuss, as our own society has parallels, and yet we profess to be so different in our values.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Laura Guerard on June 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I could not put down this special collaboration between Laura Resau and Maria Virginia Farinango! The Queen of Water perfectly depicts the cultures and setting of rural Ecuador, and taught me a lot about the social issues. I was deeply moved by Maria Virginia's struggle and inspired by her strength and will to overcome. The fact that she took an unjust and tragic situation and used it to formally educate herself and significantly raise the quality of her life is commendable. This story has been steadfast in my head since I read it and I look forward to reading it again soon... And getting my hands on more of Laura Resau's writing! I have shared The Queen of Water with my mom, sisters, and various friends... the conclusion is it is a fast read, yet very impactful and everyone loved it. I am happy a dear friend passed it along to me in May!

*I was recently fortunate enough to visit with Maria Virginia in Otavalo and she is every bit of the strong, yet gentle woman I expected her to be. She is caring, sincere, and a true advocate of education and individual rights.

Now that I have read Laura Resau's very rich, raw, and realistic novels (though labeled a novel, The Queen of Water is a biography with minor changes), I feel that Laura wrote The Queen of Water using Maria Virginia's voice, or her portrayal of it. I would love to see The Queen of Water translated and published in Spanish!
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