It’s been a while since I’ve accepted the gift of a book in exchange for a review. I’ve been hesitant to for fear of being stuck with books that I can’t really enjoy, but recently I decided to try out the Prince Iggy series by Aldo Fynn, and really enjoyed sharing it with my kids.
Prince Iggy grew up in the Kingdom of Naysayers, in a boarding school my nine year old described as “the Hogwarts out of Hell.” The kids are served porridge three times every day (more gruel anyone?) and encouraged to behave unethically. There Iggy is belittled and bullied until he believes himself to be Stinky Iggy and all the other names the children call him.
Iggy doesn’t want to be taken away by the man who calls him “Your Highness.” School might be bad, but its less scary than the unknown, and being told he’s a prince doesn’t really match with is own understanding of life. Through out the rest of the first story he and various people come to understand that he is Prince Iggy, and the magic of that knowledge (and a magic ring) can set him free.
Of course just discovering one is a long-lost prince isn’t enough, one has to reclaim one’s home kingdom, and that is what Iggy and his friends the scarecrow, the cowardly lion, and, errr... no, I mean his friends the professor, the magic user, the artist and the sea captain set out to do.
“It sounds like the star’s having an existential crisis,” said Henry O’Henry.
“What’s that?” asked Iggy.
“A fancy way of saying you’re really, really bored and you don’t know what to do with yourself,” responded O’Henry. (pg 52)
Now to a large extent Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayers is about Iggy learning to accept that he is better than he has been taught to think of himself. In the second book Iggy is posed with a different problem: accepting the possibility someone else might be better than him. On the way to his kingdom, Prince Iggy gets convinced to switch places with a bored star – a plot twist that reminds me vaguely of Hercules and Atlas. The Rose Star is faster and do things with much more ease than Iggy. It is a really good premise and has great potential, but the author fumbles the ball making Iggy’s renewed burst of self-confidence come from realizing that a girl likes him and the assurance that the star isn’t as nice a person as him. The story came close to dealing with a difficult question but passed it off and the Prince and his friends continue on in their quest to retake the Kingdom.
The series has lots of things I like. The books have an abundance of amazing comical pictures done by Richie Vicencio. It has a very simple, easy reading comical world where things are predictable and easy to understand yet anything is possible. It has a deeper meaning spelled out simply. It’s preachy occasionally, but for the most part the humor keeps that from becoming a problem. The humor also keeps what would otherwise be scary parts from being all that scary. The King of Naysayers likes to collect and invent torture methods. Since the torture methods are things like being forced to eat twenty jars of peanut butter without any water, kids don’t really have to be afraid.
The book also has a few things I don’t like. I don’t like Prince Iggy’s disgust at having to be disguised as a girl. “Girl” should not ever, even in jest, be portrayed as something lesser or to be embarrassed about. I’m not entirely pleased with the language. I believe phrases like “if it bit you on the arse” are unnecessary in children’s books, though I suppose that isn’t as bad as it could be.
Overall, I think the good far outweighs the problems with the series and I look forward to book three, hoping to find lots of more gems in it, like this little bit from book one:
“Are you sure this is going to work?” asked Iggy.
“No,” said Miss Blackfeather. She looked Iggy squarely in the eyes. “That’s why it’s an adventure.”
This is a good series for youngsters who feel just a bit weird and uncomfortable with who they are, or for those who are starting to internalize the criticism that bullies have lobbed at them, or for early readers looking for adventures that won’t be too scary.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through the Mother Daughter Book Review website, and for posting a review on Amazon I was entered in a draw by MDBR website. My opinions are my own.