The Queen in the Cave

Publisher: Walker Studio

Sisters Franca, Carmela and Tomasina venture out into the forest one day for an adventure, led by Franca, who has dreamt of a cave in the woods and is convinced that life is full of secrets just waiting to be discovered.

Sure enough, as they delve deeper into the forest, the sisters find themselves shrunk down, racing on the backs of snails and having tea with Grandmother Spider. They dance with the rats at Big Mama’s funeral party and disturb the hanging bats who snip at their ears.

However, as the day wears on, the sisters start to feel homesick, and Carmela and Tomasina leave Franca playing in the cave from her dream. Later, a rather muddy and smelly Franca slips into bed with her sisters and they all fall asleep. Franca, the oldest sister, is growing up and feeling the pull of freedom, but her sisters still need the security of home.

Julia Sarda’s remarkable and dream-like fable about growing up – and some of the discomfort we may feel when our friends or siblings want to explore more mature experiences – is full of her resplendent illustration, representing the magic in the wild (and sometimes wicked) secret kingdoms of nature. On one level a kind of modern-day fairy tale, this is also a story about sisters, adventure and the inevitability of change.

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