The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen
By Geraldine McCaughrean
Harper, 2010. 324 pgs. Middle grade fiction.
When diphtheria comes to Olive Town, Oklahoma, twelve-year-old Cissy's parents want to get her somewhere safe. Soon, they've enlisted Cissy's uptight schoolteacher, Miss May March, to escort her and two friends, Tibbie and Kookie, to meet up with their former schoolteacher, Loucien Crew, who has recently married an actor and gone on the road with his troupe. The actors have taken refuge in an old paddle steamer, which has run aground but soon sweeps them off down the river, and adventures ensue. They lose several members in a storm and then gain more along the way as they set up a traveling show. However, they're hit with some bad luck, and Cissy, who is desperate to be an actress, will have to give the performance of a lifetime to get them out of trouble.
This book is hilarious! The writing is clever and funny and the characters are a riot! The plot is good, too, and readers will be swept up in the story. This would be a great one to read aloud with a class.