CM . . .
. Volume X Number 20 . . . . June 4, 2004
excerpt from The Wolf King:
excerpt from The Sorcerer's Last Words:
In The Wolf King, a young boy of seventeen, who is the only person awake in his village, cries "wolf." Because he has done this twice before, all the villagers go back to sleep except for Eva who is carrying his unborn child and Corporal Von Kligge. The wolves do attack that night, but they are thwarted by Von Kligge. The boy escapes to the woods, and everyone presumes that he was eaten by the wolves. Eva gives birth to Alfred, and so begins his life of misery. Everyone knows he is the son of the boy who cried wolf, and he is bullied almost daily. He falls in love with Martina, but he knows she can only love a soldier who has proved himself in battle, and so he joins the guard. When Martina still does not notice him, he abandons his post on the wall and decides to become a wolf. The wolf king, who is actually his father, says he will make him his lieutenant and tells him he has to return to the wall and make certain that he is the only guard on duty. The wolves do attack, but just as the wolf king is about to kill Martina and the guard she loves, Alfred shoots his own father and then he disappears. The wolves go back to the forest without their leader. Alfred leaves the village and, in his travels, meets a woman who has never seen a wolf.
In The Sorcerer's Last Words, Humbolt's life becomes days of endless chores. One of his many chores is to carry buckets and buckets of water up the steep staircase to fill the aquarium. One day when the Sorcerer is not around, he finds his book and commands the broom to carry the buckets. Unfortunately, just like the scene in the Disney movie, he does not know how to stop the broom. Humbolt is saved from drowning by the Sorcerer who commands the broom to stop. The Sorcerer believes he has discovered alchemy and invites the king to his castle. The King does not believe the Sorcerer's logic and has him killed and then burns the castle. Humbolt is left with his master's book and his own desire for power. After spending time as a hermit reading the book, he discovers he does have power. He heads to the Imperial City and tells the guards he can make gold. When he meets the King, he sets him on fire, and he becomes the "Sorcerer King." He tells his loyal subjects that they must do chores. Haunted by dreams and visions of brooms, he decrees that all brooms must be burnt, but he still hears the broom rustling in the darkness. While he has been busy, he hasn't noticed that the broom has filled the castle with water. His door bursts open, and he is once again submerged in water, and he is once again saved by the Sorcerer who commands the broom to stop. The Sorcerer hands him a bucket which Humboldt refuses as he walks out into the sunlight.
This pair of books are the third and fourth in the series “Preposterous Fables for Unusual Children.” The books are small, about the size of a standard paperback, and both are under 150 pages. The chapters are short, and there are many full-page black and white sketches to break up the text and illustrate portions of the story. The print is small, but the text is double-spaced so it is easy to read.
Although the books are interesting and filled with rich, descriptive language ("...immobile except for his flicking eyes and his murmuring lips..."), they may only appeal to students who enjoy fantasy and have read other books with such detailed plots. The vocabulary might deter other readers who prefer books with more action and less description.
Pat Fay is a teacher-librarian in Charleswood, MB, who does enjoy books with lots of description.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.