Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Broken Bike Boy and the Queen of 33rd Street

The Broken Bike Boy and the Queen of 33rd Street
by Sharon G. Flake
illustrated by Colin Bootman

About the book:
Queen is a royal pain in the neck! Her Highness treats everyone as though they were her loyal subjects. That’s why all the kids hate her and it’s hard for her to make friends. To make matters worse, Queen knows that she is smart. Her teacher, however, thinks she’s a spoiled know-it-all, and that keeps Queen in hot water too.
            When a new kid comes to Queen’s school riding a broken bike and wearing run-over shoes, he immediately becomes the butt of everyone’s jokes. Queen’s parents insist that she be nice to Leroy, because history has never been kind to queens who forget how to be humble. But Leroy isn’t just smelly; Queen thinks that he tells fibs- whoppers, in fact- and when he says he’s an African prince from Senegal, sparks begin to fly. And Queen is determined to prove that Leroy is an imposter.
            What Queen ultimately discovers about Leroy teachers her something about herself, the majesty of Africa and the beauty and strength of friendship.

About the author:
Sharon G. Flake won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award for her first novel The Skin I’m In and is a two-time Coretta Scott King Honor Book winner. Beloved by children and adults, critics and booksellers, librarians and teachers, she is the author of a middle-grade novel and five books for young adults that have sold more than half a million copies. The mother of a college-age daughter, Flake writes full-time from her home in Pittsburgh.

About the guide:
This guide includes discussion questions intended to provoke thought and insight into the themes of the book which include friendship, truth, growing up and family relationships.

What do you think the title means? Who do you think might be the Queen? What do queens expect from their subjects and their lives?

Discussion questions:
1. How does Queen get along with other children? Why? Would you want to be her friend? Why or why not?
2. What do other children think of Queen? Why do they pick on her? Does she contribute to her problems at school with her classmates and teacher? How?
3. Describe Leroy. How does Queen end up spending so much time with him at her house? Would you want to be friends with Leroy? Why or why not?
4. Where does Leroy say his from? What other locations does he describe? Would you believe his stories or not? Why?
5. Why do you think kids tease one another so much? Do they mean to be cruel or not? Does it happen every day at your own school? What do you do to avoid being teased? How can you help someone who is being picked on at school or home?
6. How do Queen’s parents treat Leroy? Why? Would you feel jealous if you were Queen? What do they hope to show Queen?
7. Who is Queen’s best friend? Do you think Queen is a good friend to Carmen or not? What makes someone a “best” friend? What big argument do they have? How do they work it out?
8. How do Leroy and Queen end up in the Principal’s office? What does Miss Sprits do? Do you believe Leroy’s stories when you see the proof he shows everyone? Why or why not?
9. How does Carmen’s leaving really change things for Queen? What advice does Carmen try to give Queen about friendship? Does Queen listen to her friend? Is it good advice?
10. Queen wants to reveal the truth about Leroy’s fibbing. Why does this become so important to her? What steps does she take to prove that she’s right?
11. Describe Queen’s relationship with the adults in her life. How does she get along with her parents and teacher, Mrs. McBride? Do you think treating Queen like royalty her whole life has been a good idea or not? What does Queen’s mother try to teach her in the end?
12. What does Queen discover about Cornelius? How does this discovery change her perspective on other people and even herself? What does she learn?


Fill out the following graphic organizer as you read the novel. As readers we learn about characters by what they say, what they do, and how others treat them. Find specific examples to show what you know about them be sure to tell what page number you found out the information.

What they say:
What they do:
How others treat them:


Keep a journal as if you were Queen as you read the novel. Write at least four entries and try to really sound as if you were Queen herself reacting to the major events that happen along the way.

Create a collage inspired by the novel. Find (or create) pictures from magazines that represent the main characters, their hopes, dreams and fears. Explain your piece in a brief journal that you turn in with the collage.

Queen’s mother helps her act out and practice things Queen can say to other children to become their friend. As a class, or in pairs, have children brainstorm situations that are common in school, on the playground, or in neighborhoods. Here are a few to get you started: three girls are playing jumprope how can you join them? Kids on the bus are teasing you about your new boots. What can you say or do?

Pick a piece of music for either Queen or Leroy. Explain why you think this song best fits their story. If you can, bring in the music to share or the lyrics and then write a letter to the character explaining why you picked this song and why you think they would like it.