I read this book as part of a "literary discussion group" for my 5th grader's class. Each week the kids got together and discussed the reading. They had weekly assignments as well as a "discussion worksheet" that they filled out to help promote discussion. It was pretty cool to see these fifth graders start down the path of analyzing and really thinking about the books they were reading. Tons of fun.
As to the book, it's an entertaining read with some interesting themes and principles. The high level summary is that the prime minister in a kingdom is trying to write a dictionary for the kingdom. With each definition, he provides an example. He's reached the word "Delicious" and everybody has a different opinion as to what truly exemplifies the word....apples, nuts, pies, etc. So, the young hero Gaylen is sent out into the kindgom to take a survey of every citizen and determine, by majority, what is the most delicious.
The disagreements within the castle prove to have just been a microcosm of the kingdom at large and it quickly becomes evident that there won't be any common consensus. Added to the "delicious" problem, we have a power hungry man riding around the country stirring up trouble in hopes of eventually getting the kingdom for himself.
An intriguing parallel story thread starts with a prologue in which we're given definitions of mystical/magical creatures who still exist but have been forgotten or ignored by humans. We're presented the story of a mermaid named Ardis who had a magical key that opened and closed the door of a house at the bottom of a lake. The key was taken from her by a human and has been lost forever. Throughout Gaylen's journey across the kingdom, he learns more about these mythical beings and the part they may still play in the kingdom.
Overall, this was a fun and entertaining story. It's a simple tale easily accessible to children. And yet it has some themes and ideas that could be engaging to adults as well. It makes a point of showing how silly some of our arguments become and how outrageous our behavior is. It touches on the concepts of the creativity and imagination that's often lost as we transition from youth to adult.
This is a fun fairy tale that can be enjoyed together by parents and children.
3.5 out of 5 stars
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