Hal, The Third Class Hero.
Toronto: HarperCollins, 1992. 134pp., galley, $5.95.
Reviewed by Carol Carver.
Volume 20 Number 6.
Poor Hal graduated from Hero School with only a third-class certificate and has been jobless for six months in this New Age fairytale.
When he spots a notice about a kidnapped princess, he hopes his luck has changed. On the way to King Maze's castle, he stops to rescue a bedraggled dragon hatchling, whom he eventually names Smoke. With the help of two dwarfs, he performs the king's two preliminary tasks but signs a contract without reading the fine print: success means marriage and failure means death.
During his search he battles a sea serpent, three huge birdmen, a slow-witted giant, a mechanical crab monster, and, most trying of all, Princess Lina's sharp tongue. Hal is beginning to have doubts about his profession! They eventually arrive safely home and escape marriage when the princess explains that she did most of the rescuing. The tale concludes with Hal resigning from the hero union and setting off with Smoke on another adventure.
This tongue-and-cheek look at a hero's dilemma is crammed with action and humour. Craddock writes clearly and imaginatively, and the occasional Gothic type adds an old-fashioned touch. However, the subplot of the royal Aristo family seems disjointed and underdeveloped.
Hal, the Third Class Hero is a funny, fastmoving modern fairy-tale that will appeal to both boys and girls.
Grades 3 to 5 / Ages 8 to 10.
Carol Carver is a primary teacher at Dieppe School in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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