As we mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth, it gives me great comfort to share some of my
thoughts about visiting London, meeting the Queen right here in Richmond, VA, and writing a book where my two French mice finally meet the Queen!
London is a breathtaking place to visit. My family and I traveled from Paris to London via the chunnel, the high-speed train that travels through an undersea tunnel linking France and England. The Chunnel is the world's longest undersea tunnel, 23.5 miles, making it the equivalent of 169 Eiffel Towers stacked on top of each other (hmmm...a good connection for the two French Mice)!
Once in London, we stopped on a red double-decker bus to tour the iconic sites. My favorite memory was standing outside Buckingham Palace and watching the changing of the guards. The formality and tradition were terrific to watch as new guards came to work and old guards went home. That profound memory is captured in my book. We hoped for a glimpse of the Queen, but that wasn't to be! Instead, we visited the outskirts of Buckingham Palace and later went for a side trip to Windsor Caster, a second home to the Queen. We visited the church at Windsor where Queen Elizabeth attended and sat in the pew where she sat. Still no sighting of the Queen! Our journey continued with visits to Big Ben, London Bridge, The London Eye, and more. I captured these memories as I wrote Two Mice in London, my second book in the Two Mice travel series. I wanted children to experience the history and beauty of one of the oldest of the world's great cities and the capital of the United Kingdom.
While Two Mice in London has many facts about London to share with children, there is also
a charming fictional story about the two French mice, Azura and Afrodille, finding a crafty way to meet the Queen. They use their problem-solving and creativity to get into the Queen's Court (I don't want to spoil the story) via some historical landmarks (wow...lots of personal connections for me as I wrote this book). The two mice do meet the Queen, and the rest is history!
It wasn't until 2007 that I FINALLY had a chance to meet (well, see from afar) the Queen for myself. As a leader in Chesterfield County Schools, I graciously asked to be a chaperone
to accompany 130 students to the Capitol to meet Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. They were in Richmond, Virginia, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. The children made signs to welcome the Queen and her Prince, and
the adults wore fancy hats in honor of the Queen! At last, I had my chance to see the Queen.
While it was from a distance, you could
see her beautiful pink and lavender outfit, brooch, pearls, and whimsical hat that she wore! Some of our students had the unique opportunity to meet the Queen, present her with flowers, and visit the Capitol for lunch and a tour, while others had a delightful picnic on the lawn. It was quite the day, an opportunity of a lifetime!
My talented illustrator, David Pfendler, created the most incredible graphics of Queen Elizabeth in Two Mice in London. When the Queen died, I immediately picked up a copy of my book and
reminisced about Queen Elizabeth's grace, beauty, and ever-present smile. I would have never thought I would finally have a chance to see the Queen, and, years later, write a story for children sharing my experiences in London with my memories of meeting the Queen from afar.
That's what writing does. It connects personal experiences and dreams! And reading allows others to share those unique experiences and imagine with you. I only wish the Queen would have had the opportunity to read my book. My next dream is to send it to her young grandchildren so they can experience sweet memories through a bit of silliness and creativity from two adorable French mice! In the meantime, I hope my young readers enjoy learning about London and meeting the Queen in Two Mice in London.