Queenie Peavy Essay - Critical Context

Robert Burch

Critical Context

Queenie is a girl ahead of her time. Queenie Peavy, written during a time when juvenile delinquency was of minor concern to society, offered adolescent readers the opportunity to realize what might happen if one continued to be a juvenile delinquent. By the late twentieth century, the increase in juvenile delinquency had become a major concern in American society, especially for educators. Juvenile delinquents were being sentenced as adult offenders because of the serious nature of their crimes, and educators were being asked to teach in classrooms where these criminals were students. As a result, there was an increase in the number of books written about juvenile delinquents.

Published in 1966, Queenie Peavy was immediately recognized as a book of literary merit by a number of critics. In 1966, it received the Child Study Association of America Children’s Book Award as the best book that dealt realistically with a problem of the contemporary world. In 1967, the Jane Addams Book Award, given for books exploring the theme of brotherhood and displaying literary merit, was given to Queenie Peavy. The children of Georgia chose the book as their favorite with the Georgia’s Children’s Book Award in 1971. In 1974, it won the George G. Stone Center for Children’s Books Award. Virginia Haviland included the novel in The Best of Children’s Books (1981). Finally, in 1986, the novel earned the Phoenix Award from the Children’s Literature Association; this award recognized books of literary merit published for children twenty years before that had not received a major award. As with all classics, Queenie Peavy, a beautifully written book, has stood the test of time.