Narelle is the Queen of her house; moving with grace and elegance when not lounging regally on her throne and completely in tune with all of the goings on in a busy household, she is the most important member of the family. Maddie adores Narelle, her wisest and best friend. So when things start to unravel for Maddie at school and her once happy days are filled with sadness and loneliness it is Narelle who notices. A monarch’s job is to be sure her subjects are safe and happy but what can the Queen feline do to help bring the happiness back to Maddie’s life…
Touching, tender and beautiful, Queen Narelle is a heartbreaking and ultimately heartwarming and hopeful story about a young girl dealing with familiar childhood difficulties - in this case friendship fallings out and the bullying that follows - and her perceptive cat that is always there to listen and to offer a helping paw.
Peppered with meaningful illustrations and told in accessible verse from the alternating viewpoints of Maddie and Narelle (distinguishable by stylised headings and different weights of print), this gentle exploration of friendship and fallings out, of loneliness and sadness, and of navigating the choppy seas of childhood - especially when busy family members are at first too busy to notice what is going on - will appeal to many and may prove helpful in supporting children who are feeling like, or know someone who feels like, Maddie.
At the heart of the story is a wonderful relationship and one that will make pet owners feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Pets find a special place in our hearts, offering a one-of-a-kind friendship like no other; they have that special intuition to know exactly how we feel and just what we need. They join in with moments of happiness and celebration, they comfort us when we are sad, offer calm in seas of anxiety, bring relief from heartache and pain, and so much more.
Narelle is Maddie’s rock in turbulent times and is the ever present, seeing her off to school, waiting eagerly for her return and always keen for snuggles. The royal fluff-ball is a joy, noticing what others miss and offering an insightful and often funny cats-eye view of the world as she notices and comments on the family that she lives with and the nuances of human behaviour.
Whilst Maddie is having a hard time, what shines - apart from Narelle - are messages of overcoming difficulties, the strength of supportive family and the hope of better tomorrows. Life is going to have twists and turns, ups and downs, good times and bad, but there is no problem that cannot be dealt with head on. Bullies especially need to be dealt with, they have no right to get you down and as long as they are addressed and put to rest then victims can come back stronger, positive and with renewed spirit. Maddie’s story is such and by the end you’ll be wanting to reach in and give her (and Narelle) a hug.
Not just for the kids there are some important reminders for the adults too, particularly around taking the time to ask - to really ask - what is going on in the lives of their children. It is so easy to get lost in our own schedules and talk about our hectic days without taking the time to properly check in with those who need it most. And whilst Maddie’s mum manages a very busy household she eventually is the support that Maddie needs, offering wise words that highlight the importance of conversations, opening up and broaching difficult topics.
Lots packed into this delightful little package of seventy pages. Purr-fect reading!
Recommended for 7+.
With huge thanks to Walker for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.