Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Review by Nine Words Max by Dan Bar-el, illustrated by David Huyck

Nine Words Max is a picture book written by Dan Bar-el and illustrated by David Huyck. It will be published April 22, 2014 by Tundra Books. I loved it so much, I could never pick nine words to describe it!

This is a delightful picture book that can be enjoyed by both children and parents alike. At its most basic level, it's a cautionary tale about despising a person's intelligence and curiosity, and disliking their desire to attain and share knowledge of the world. 

In short: don't pick on the little dorky kid. One day, you'll need him. Smart kids will go far in life!

Summary:  Maximilian is a prince who loves to talk: No topic is too small, no story too boring. Max's brothers are the opposite--the less said the better. When the king and queen go on a trip and leave the brothers alone, the 3 princes put a spell on Max that limits him to speaking only 9 words at a time. The brothers are delighted: peace and quiet at last! But when a fearsome dignitary arrives, they realize the true value of their brother's insatiable need for information. A cautionary tale and a tongue-in-cheek tribute to trivia buffs, Nine Words Max is also a sly satire of our modern world's obsession with media--the 3 reticent princes spend a lot of time sending silly messages, lying around watching puppet shows and speaking in 140 characters or less... This book is a funny, quirky and madcap tale with fantastic illustrations from illustrator David Huyck.

Huyck's illustrations are entertaining, incredibly detailed, and really help to make this a 4-star picture book. Maximilian is very clearly a smart child. His brothers, who can barely pull more than three words together, are simpletons: the brainless, macho brother; the gluttonous brother, and the gangly, hick-looking one. All three are useless as rulers, let alone as problem-solvers. Maximilian is an unlikely, seemingly unlikable hero, but he's a great role model for young readers when they see how his intelligence and interest in the world ultimately saves the day.

Children will giggle at silly facial expressions, hilarious images like the one of a chubby king in a ridiculous swimming getup, and crude humour of a butt crack showing. Although some sensitive parents may find the humour inappropriate, it is written for children ages 5-9, and it is no more inappropriate than the mildly crude humour of Shrek. 

The story is timeless, the characters are silly but loveable, and the intelligent, witty narrative is complemented further by the brilliant illustrations. There's so much to see in the details of every spread that readers will likely spot something new every time they read it. 

Dan Bar-el and David Huyck are a masterful storytelling duo. This book is a wonderful addition to any bookshelf. Turn story time with your little ones into fun time — and make it an engaging and memorable experience with Nine Words Max

4 Stars

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