This week’s bedtime story: The Queen’s Handbag by Steve Antony

London Mums bedtime story this week is The Queen’s Handbag by writer & illustrator Steve Antony published by Hodder Children’s books (1st Oct 2015).  

Steve Antony is a very popular author at the London Mums’ Kids Club for his other masterpieces, The Queen’s Hat and Please Mr Panda. He is certainly child reporter Diego’s favourite writer, who keeps picking Steve’s books to read together despite being 9 and reading also more difficult literature.

Queen Elisabeth II is not just the longest serving monarch ever, the most colourful dressed sovereign in history, the most dedicated public servant in Britain but she is also funny, quirky at times and this has put her in the spotlight more than any monarchs in modern history.

I am sure you will agree with me that she showed her great sense of humour during the London 2012 Olympic Games official presentation show when she ‘jumped’ with secret agent 007 (actor Daniel Craig) from a helicopter onto the stadium with a parachute. Of course it wasn’t her jumping down, but she still agreed to play that part and to the whole idea of the joke. If you appreciate this side of the British Queen, then you will love both Steve Antony’s stories The Queen’s Hat and The Queen’s handbag.

In the latest book a sneaky swan snatches her beloved and world famous black handbag and she does not instruct anybody to chase it, but instead she goes after the swan herself.
She drives a car, a motorbike, she flies a Red Arrow plane, she rides a horse among other adventurous things.

In the process the reader follows the ‘hands-on’ Queen throughout Britain exploring some of the most iconic British landmarks: Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, the White Cliffs of Dover, Oxford, Snowdonia, the Giant’s Causeway, the Angel of the north, Edinburgh castle and back to London among runners at the famous London Marathon where she finally manages to catch the Swan at the finish line.

Needless to say that the illustrations are beautiful and clearly very effective to convey the humour that underlines the entire story.

If this book doesn’t make you smile and adore the Queen even more, nothing else will.

Steve Antony’s own website has lots of interesting facts about his books and characters. Here are some of my favourite ones.

In The Queen’s Handbag, the Queen’s butler can be seen carrying a mystery box on almost every page. But you’ll have to look hard to find him! On each page there are lots of fun details, including a shamrock, a kilt, the Madhatter’s Hat and even an alien. There’s a Union Jack on almost every page. The hardest page to draw was the ‘Oxford’ page, because of all those bicycles!

The Queen’s Hat was Steve’s first picture book and was inspired a newspaper article.

The book was illustrated in the colours of the Union Jack. The Queen’s butler is hidden on almost every single page. A copy of The Queen’s Hat is displayed in Buckingham Palace’s Play Room.

Please Mr Panda
is the first book in a series of Mr Panda books, which are all about manners. Mr Panda may look grumpy but he has a heart of gold.


The book is about war and peace, and it asks the question ‘What are we fighting for?’ The idea of putting Red Rectangles in a picture book was inspired by a painting called ‘Eight Red Rectangles’, by Malevich. Ironically, Steve is red-green colourblind.

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