The Unruly Queen by E.S. Redmond

 “Minvera von Vyle was a mischievous child

who was coddled and spoiled

and allowed to run wild.

She was peevish and pushy

and got her own way

by throwing hysterical fits every day.”

–E.S. Redmond


When my daughter was about 4-years-old, she went through what can only be described as a “difficult stage.” That’s really just doctor-speak for “wild girl child apocalypse.” I was the benefactor. For the most part, I find toddler tantrums, well, brutally funny.

Most real tantrums make me giggle, however, the humor over these same behaviors past the age of 2-years gets decidedly less, ah, funny.  

Take, for instance, the day my then-four-year-old, who was vehemently angry about having to leave the park, undid her seatbelt, jump out of the car, stormed into the house and promptly locked me, and her siblings, out. I’d already taken a few bags in, and made the mistake of leaving my keys and cell phone inside as well.

I can still picture her big blue eyes peeking out the window at me while, with arms crossed and bottom lip protruding, she angrily told me that I “was in so much big trouble.” While I get a great chuckle thinking about it now, I think every parent has struggled with the occasional tantrum-prone kid. Enter E.S. Redmond and her storybook about the young Minerva Von Vyle, “a thoroughly spoiled and impossible child.”

Written in the tradition of “Nanny McPhee,” the story of “The Unruly Queen” gives caregivers a gentle way to illustrate to youngsters a finer way to behave. But, it does it with a little humor and grace, and the book isn’t preachy. (I do suggest making an additional set of keys, however.)

Minerva, who previously insisted on platefuls of candy instead of dinner, and pink pajamas made of silk, finally sees what her tirade has caused. It’s with charm that Redmond’s stunning artwork and her humorous prose approach such difficult behavior. Minerva Von Vyle isn’t lectured into behaving, or made to sit in a corner.  

Rather, by allowing the young troublemaker to indulge every whim when her 53rd nanny crown’s her the “Unruly Queen.” Initially thrilled with the honor, she gets to imagine the joys of a life where she can “banish all beasties who dare to behave” and to smash things to bits, to not bathe or to brush her teeth.

 But a life of that behavior comes with a price… she’d live as the queen high on Petulant Peak, with all of the naughty beasts.  Minerva gets to see the value of good hygiene and basic kindness, but in a way that allows her to draw her own conclusions about  her behavior.

 I imagine that if I had had this book to read to my young daughter on one of her few tantrum days, she might be able to come to  her own conclusions about her behavior, too. But ultimately, Redmond’s real knack is the lesson for the caregivers of such children,  since those taxing tantrums are just a kids way of asking for time, patience, love and attention.