________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 29. . . .March 28, 2014


Nine Words Max.

Dan Bar-el. Illustrated by David Huyck.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2014.
32 pp., hardcover & ebook, $19.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77049-562-3 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77049-564-7 (ebook).

Kindergarten-grade 4 / Ages 5-9.

Review by Reesa Cohen.

**** /4


Maximillian was a prince of many words- a young boy who loved to ask questions, had an insatiable curiosity and carried enormous amounts of information in his brain. He loved to share all this with anyone who would listen. However, his three brothers were the opposite. They spoke little and struggled with the constant nattering of their brother on every topic imaginable. Brothers Kurt, Wilt and Tripp had little interest in questions, answers and conversations and were frustrated by their verbose brother.

" Maximillian, would you just stop babbling!" "Maximillian, please, would you just zip your lips!"

internal art     When all four princes were left in charge of the Kingdom while their parents were away, the three older brothers saw their chance to quiet Maximillian's "constant chattering". They enlisted the help of the royal wizard. Their solution was to cast a spell which would limit their younger brother to nine words Max. (Even 10 words were too many to tolerate!) Kurt, Wilt, and Tripp were thrilled by the results and enjoyed the relative peace and quiet. But trouble ensued when the Kingdom was visited by the dangerous Queen Sparks from the land of Flint and when specific instructions for her arrival and her stay needed to be conveyed to all. Of course, the bearer of all this knowledge resided with Maximillian. Alas, he was confined to nine words. His vast store of information, his curiosity and his ability to communicate, suddenly became prized and valued.

     Bar-el uses his skills as a storyteller, educator and children's author to spin an entertaining, quirky tale that celebrates the use of language. The clever and humorous story extols the use of words at a time when today’s media emphasizes brevity and seems to rely on shortened messaging in texts, emails and abbreviated tweets. The rich vocabulary and lively text are well-served by the high energy illustrations. This isn't the first successful collaboration between Bar-el and David Huyck. Their first partnership, That One Spooky Night, indicated that this team has the ability to produce delightful results. The cartoon-like illustrations are colorful, action-packed and crammed full of riotous detail.

     Huyck's sense of humour about his own drawings is evident in his description of them: "The artwork in this book was rendered digitally with sensors and doohickeys and magic.”

Highly Recommended.

Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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