Queen Victoria's Knickers by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

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Queen Victoria's Knickers by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: I never knew that Queen Victoria championed the wearing of knickers! A fun, nicely illustrated look at the making of the first pair of Royal knickers.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: April 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0007418312

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A message from the palace has arrived! It's from Queen Victoria, and as mum reads it she cries out The Queen wants my knickers! Queen Victoria, ruler of the British Empire, has riches galore, but she has no knickers, so the dressmaker's family set about making her some.

I had no idea prior to reading this book that Queen Victoria had done much to popularise the wearing of knickers by women. It's only recently that I thought about the fact that for hundreds of years women didn't wear any at all! Here we find that as Queen Victoria enjoyed active pursuits such as riding, dancing and walking she required undergarments to prevent the display of anything rude! This story shows us a little girl's family as the girl's mother is asked to provide the Queen with some knickers. They select the material, they embroider each with a number, the Queen's initials and a crown and then they deliver them to the Queen. Of course, no one is able to see their fine work since the Queen's knickers remain properly covered up...well, until the end of the book when there's a lift the flap for us as readers to have a sneaky peak (and discover what else she has hidden beneath her voluminous skirts!)

This is an unusual book. Although it's styled as a picture book it's actually a bit too grown up for small toddlers I think. My little girl enjoyed it (she's four and a half) but there were some lengthy explanations required as to who Napoleon was, who Captain Cook was, what linen and bobbins are...I think it would actually be better suited to primary school children, perhaps as part of a history lesson in schools covering this period of time. There is humour within the story as the family imagine why the Queen wants knickers (for roller-skating?) and what sort of knickers she might need (tartan?!) but I think toddlers require something simpler and sillier to keep them amused, such as Aliens In Underpants Save The World.

For slightly older children however it makes a nice, fun story to share or for them to try reading alone or just to look through to enjoy the lovely illustrations. I liked the style of the pictures, some in sepia to give them that old fashioned feel, and a rather more smiley Queen Victoria than one usually sees. She has a couple of doggies with her at all times (not corgis!) who are sweet and add humour to the various knicker-related situations being illustrated.

There's a full page explanation at the back of the book about how knickers became more popular and includes interesting notes about knicker rotation (wealthy households perhaps only washed their clothes once or twice a year!) and about where you can see a pair of Queen Victoria's knickers, if you so desire. I certainly learnt something from reading it!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: If this book puts you in a knickers sort of mood then you might enjoy shouting 'KNICKERS' very loudly in Hattie the Bad by Jane Devlin and Joe Berger.

Buy Queen Victoria's Knickers by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Queen Victoria's Knickers by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Queen Victoria's Knickers by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Queen Victoria's Knickers by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley at Amazon.com.


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