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The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen: 11/24/12
The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen by Geraldine McCaughrean is the sequel to Stop That Train but it can read as a stand alone. Cissy and some of her Olive, Oklahoma classmates are sent to the care of their former school teacher during a diphtheria outbreak.
The cover art depicts a fairly early scene in the book, the arrival of the children to the paddle wheel. It washed ashore in a disused pasture where it has lain unclaimed. The acting troop is hiding out there while they try to figure out how to get one of their actors out of jail on an obscenity charge (for quoting Shakespeare).
Most of the book, though, have adventures along the Missouri river. The humor relies on an ensemble cast of unusual characters, outlandish but still somewhat plausible situations and a wild and oft-times dangerous setting.
The timing of the story is never completely pinned down but there are enough hints to place it with in the last decade of the 19th century. The two biggest clues are the off handed comment that the last time a judge had shown up was 1891 and the fact that Queen Victoria is still the reigning monarch of United Kingdom.
Although The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen starts slow and has a large enough cast to require its own dramatis personae broken up by section, it ends up being a very entertaining turn of the century romp. I am now planning to go back and read Stop That Train.
Recommended by The Manga Mania Cafe