King with Six Friends

King with Six Friends

by Jay Williams, Imero Gobbato (Illustrator)
Publisher: Purple House Press
Hardcover, 32 pages
Price: $18.95

Cheerful young King Zar's coutnry is overthrown by a rival king, who spares his life but takes everything he has, save one suit of clothes and a small bag of money. Undaunted, Zar sets out to find work for himself; unfortunately, no one wants to hire a deposed king.

Along the way, Zar makes six highly unusual friends: Eryx can become a serpent, Furze can become a tree, Kindle can become a fire, Edge can become an axe, Agus can become an elephant, and Dumble can become a bee swarm. As Zar rescues each of these men from predicaments their talents brought about, the six travel with him on his journey to find a job. Their powers come in very handy when Zar falls in love with a princess, whose haughty father forces the younger king to perform three nearly impossible challenges before he can wed her.

This tale is classic, with well-written dialogue, engaging characters, artistically and beautifully rendered illustrations, and the timeless morals of good leadership and loyalty. Zar himself is also a good role model, who never lets his troubles get him down, and handles difficulties with unshakable aplomb; doing, as Agus puts it, "what only a good king can do; he led us!" Highly recommended to anyone (especially parents of young children) who love to read a good story. A great read-aloud, unfortunately out-of-print.

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