Lamellia: The Wicked Queen
By Gloria Gonsalves AuthorHouse 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5462-8766-7 (sc)
ISBN: 978-1-5462-8767-4 (e)
Amazon Price (paperback): $21.61
By Gini Till
When I was invited to review this book, I was excited. I have a background in remedial reading for elementary students and education, and of course, am a self-affirmed myco nerd. There are not many myco-themed books out there for children, and I’m a sucker for great illustrations. That is the one great thing I can say about this book, the illustrations by Katerina Brunot are lovely. The deep colors, variety, and personalities of the mushroom characters are delightful and expressive.
Just as the title of the book suggests, this a story about a wicked queen that poisons her child.
I will say that the story is very creative, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for children under the age of 8. It is unclear to me what target age the author had in mind. The themes expressed in the book are very dark, include negative images of mothers, and aren’t really about mushrooms – at least at any meaningful level. Though the author attempts to make real-life references to mycology, there is no real information about fungi. Yes, there are many references to genus names like Lamellia, Amanita, and Agaricia as well as common name references like Honeys and Indigos, but that’s basically all that’s included. There are mentions of glowing mushrooms (Lanterns) and the obligatory inclusion of the Queen as a brightly-colored Amanita muscaria, but not much else. One of my major myco-related disappointments was when the text referred to the release of a “reproductive pore” being carried by the wind. I believe she meant spore…
Ok, enough myco-nerding… now to content for children… It’s my understanding that good children’s books achieve some sort of objective for learning, but this book’s objectives are murky at best. At the end of the book, the author mentions the aims of teaching children about “… the importance of showing kindness, following the rules and understanding consequences.” I don’t believe the text achieves these goals. There are certainly hints of these themes, but they are not fully developed. One red flag for me, and for my very accommodating friend, a mom of a four-year-old, who listened as I read to her, was this phrase about Amanitas, “They were poisonous, though humans rarely died from eating them.” To a kid, this provides a mixed message about edibility, and does not provide any meaningful context for either the genus, general ID of mushrooms, or edibility. This caused a serious “Mom Alert!” from my very patient friend who is not a myco-nerd.
There are also a few typos, which is very disappointing… especially for a children’s book that is already available for purchase on Amazon. The sentence structure is often awkward and does not consistently follow grammatical rules. The plot frequently makes illogical, or undescribed, gaps in the storytelling. Though, I’ll emphasize again, the plot is very imaginative.
While I certainly can appreciate the effort, creativity, and imagination the author put into this book, I would not recommend it.