Queen of the Falls

by Chris Van Allsburg

In 1901, in an effort to supplement her meager finances, sixty-two-year-old Annie... read more

In 1901, in an effort to supplement her meager finances, sixty-two-year-old Annie Edison Taylor, a retired charm school teacher, decided to become the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Annie assumed she’d reap fiscal rewards for her stunt, and to increase her chances of survival she designed the barrel herself, supervised its construction, and found a manager to promote her daring deed. After her amazing feat in 1901, however, Taylor faced one disappointment after another, from a public seemingly uninterested in a sixty-two-year-old female celebrity to unsavory opportunists looking to capitalize on her accomplishment (e.g., one hired a younger, more attractive woman to pose as Annie; two others stole the barrel). Chris Van Allsburg’s tale of derring-do and the sexism and ageism it exposes comes in a beautifully designed package. Full-page black-and-white illustrations brim with marvelous details, not the least of which are the memorable expressions on Annie’s face. He elevates her name and her story from the footnote of history with both whimsy and compassion. (Ages 6–10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2012

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