Desert Queen (Hardcover)

Desert Queen By Jyoti Rajan Gopal, Svabhu Kohli (Illustrator) Cover Image

Desert Queen (Hardcover)

$18.99


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STONEWALL BOOK AWARD HONOR

BEST OF THE YEAR

Booklist - BookPage - Kirkus - BCCB

In a kaleidoscope of desert sands and swirling skirts, Queen Harish takes flight. This picture book biography, spun in vibrant verse by Jyoti Gopal, traces the journey of a beloved Rajasthani drag performer who defied tradition and dazzled the world.

Fueled by an inner fire, young Harish yearns to join the captivating desert dancers, their music pulsing through his veins. But societal constraints paint a narrow path, one that clashes with his vibrant spirit. Through lyrical stanzas and Svabhu Kohli's evocative art, Harish's story unfolds, a tapestry woven with resilience and the transformative power of dance.

From village gatherings to Bollywood stages, Queen Harish twirls her way into hearts, leaving a trail of shattered stereotypes and empowering others to embrace their true selves. This is a celebration of courage, finding your inner queen, and dancing to your own rhythm.

6 STARRED REVIEWS

★ "With art as shiny and glittery as the goddess herself, this picture book is nothing short of brilliant. An essential purchase."
—School Library Journal (starred)

★ “Both a celebration of art and a manifesto for living on one’s own terms… Kohli’s vibrant, kaleidoscope-like illustrations duet in harmony with Rajan Gopal’s lyrical, rhythmic language.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

★ “This one-of-a-kind picture book paints a stirringly intimate and reverential portrait of the late drag performer known as Queen Harish, the Whirling Desert Queen of Rajasthan… As gorgeous and indefinable as Queen Harish herself, this book belongs on every shelf.”
Booklist (starred)

★ “A fearlessly triumphant depiction of the wonder, magic and sparkle of dance.”
BookPage (starred)

★ “Celebratory… striking.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred)

★ “Vibrant, kaleidoscopic illustrations inspired by the desert environs and the textiles, architecture, and artwork of the city of Jaisalmer capture the joyful dancer's whirling and swirling movements…  Lyrical poetry mirrors the sounds and beats of the local folk music and complements the dreamlike visuals. Evocative and electrifying.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“A love letter to gender fluidity, accompanied by stunning art full of vibrancy and warmth.”
—Betsy Bird, Fuse8

Jyoti Rajan Gopal is the author of American Desi and My Paati's Saris. Growing up, she lived in Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, India and China. She now lives in New York, in a quirky old Victorian in Yonkers, with her husband, where they raised their two daughters. Her favorite place in the house is the wrap around porch where she loves to gather with family or friends, read, write and drink coffee.

Svabhu Kohli is an visual storyteller. His practice focuses on the intersection of magical realism, conservation and art as a medium to understand our relationship with the universe and its complex life forms. He has illustrated for Google Doodle, The Guardian and GQ. The Desert Queen is his first book for children. 
Product Details ISBN: 9781646142620
ISBN-10: 1646142624
Publisher: Levine Querido
Publication Date: October 24th, 2023
Pages: 56
Language: English

[STAR] “Vibrant, kaleidoscopic illustrations inspired by the desert environs and the textiles, architecture, and artwork of the city of Jaisalmer capture the joyful dancer's whirling and swirling movements… Lyrical poetry mirrors the sounds and beats of the local folk music and complements the dreamlike visuals. Evocative and electrifying.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred)



“A love letter to gender fluidity, accompanied by stunning art full of vibrancy and warmth.” – Betsy Bird, Fuse8



[STAR] “Celebratory… striking.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred)

[STAR] “This one-of-a-kind picture book paints a stirringly intimate and reverential portrait of the late drag performer known as Queen Harish, the Whirling Desert Queen of Rajasthan… As gorgeous and indefinable as Queen Harish herself, this book belongs on every shelf.” 

Booklist (starred)



[STAR] “A fearlessly triumphant depiction of the wonder, magic and sparkle of dance.” — BookPage (starred)

[STAR] “This powerful biographical picture book is both a celebration of art and a manifesto for living on one’s own terms… Kohli’s vibrant, kaleidoscope-like illustrations duet in harmony with Rajan Gopal’s lyrical, rhythmic language.” — Publishers Weekly (starred)

“A dazzling biography in verse of drag performer Queen Harish (Harish Kumar), known as the Whirling Desert Queen of Rajasthan. Gopal’s words are spare and evocative, while Rajasthan artist Kohli’s illustrations are rich in detail, texture, and bold colors. Rhythmic and inspiring, just like Queen Harish, and highly recommended.” – Mombian

[STAR] “This picture book is nothing short of brilliant. An essential purchase.”

School Library Journal (starred)