Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Queen of the Falls

Introduce children to the concept of physics and gravity after learning a true account of an individual who survived a barrel drop over Niagara Falls!

Van Allsburg, Chris.
Queen of the Falls.
April 2011.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Review copy provided courtesy of publisher.

Depending on where you live in the United States (or world), the Niagara Falls are one of the must-see historical landmarks. I have been there several times myself, and each time, the height and force of the falls amazes me! Why someone would even consider going over the falls in a barrel to try a dare-devilish stunt is beyond my knowledge... but, to each his own!

Chris Van Allsburg's Queen of the Falls shares the journey of the Annie Edson Taylor, the first person (and only woman) to have ever gone over the falls alone and survive. Her journey began in 1901 after the sixty-two year old charm teacher noticed a lack of work in her field. Naturally, worry set in about how she would survive the future financially and Annie decided something must be done to strike it rich. After reading a newspaper article about the tourists visiting Niagara Falls and remembering her own experiences visiting Niagara Falls as a child, Annie decided at that point that she would do something that had never been done before - travel over the falls in a barrel.

Despite the length of the story, it is incredibly well written and will more than likely capture the attention of many children, ages 7-12. Younger children will need help reading and breaking the story down to truly understand it, but older children should be able to handle it on their own. The book would be great to accompany a thematic unit on different natural landscapes and would likely provide for an interesting study when trying to learn about the individuals who have tried successfully to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Reading/Learning Activities:
  • Have your child(ren) pursue their studies of individuals who survived a barrel ride over Niagara Falls by researching one of the individuals mentioned at Daredevils of Niagara Falls.
  • Encourage children to experiment with the force of gravity by completing an Egg Drop activity, which would be similar to the planning required by someone hoping to take a barrel over the falls successfully. There are some different websites with ideas about this activity: Whatever Else: Egg Drop Devices, Egg Drop Contest, and Egg Drop Project Ideas are just a few... simply Google "Egg Drop Project" and you'll find many, many more!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to I am an Amazon Affiliate, so any purchases you make after clicking these images will result in my receiving a small percentage of the sale price!