The Search for Delicious
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Square Fish (August 21, 2007)
Source: My personal book
Summary from Amazon: Gaylen, the King’s messenger, a skinny boy of twelve, is off to poll the kingdom, traveling from town to farmstead to town on his horse, Marrow. At first it is merely a question of disagreement at the royal castle over which food should stand for Delicious in the new dictionary. But soon it seems that the search for Delicious had better succeed if civil war is to be avoided.
Gaylen’s quest leads him to the woldweller, a wise, 900-year-old creature who lives alone at the precise center of the forest; to Canto, the minstrel who sings him an old song about a mermaid child and who gives him a peculiar good-luck charm; to the underground domain of the dwarfs; and finally to Ardis who might save the kingdom from havoc.
My Review: I love this book! It is such a fun, easy, and enjoyable read. It’s an adventure story with a few surprises and fantasy elements added in. Young Gaylen is on a quest to poll the kingdom’s response for the royal dictionary’s choice for something “delicious.” Unfortunately, no one can agree on a response. At first Gaylen thinks it’s all a difficult coincidence that no two votes are alike, but then he realizes that someone is sabotaging his mission. After all, what would an adventure story be without a little subterfuge? As it turns out, the King’s brother is out to start a civil war within the kingdom. He wants to overthrow the king and take the throne. Gaylen realizes this and tries his best to stop the evil uncle, but his plan is interrupted. Just when it seems that the king’s brother will win, a mystical creature (Ardis the mermaid) comes and saves the day!
This book is suitable for young readers, while older readers (teens) may find it a little boring or “childish.” As an adult, I found it delightful. I loved the humor and word play. The puns and subtle nuances added to my enjoyment even more. (The word play ranks high on my list…on the level of The Magic Tollbooth.) There isn’t a lot of deep character development in the book, but it doesn’t take away from the read. You get a sense of the scatterbrained king, Gaylen’s loyalty, and the diabolical nature of the king’s uncle. While it is clear which role everyone is intended to play, there isn’t much insight into the motivations… at least on a deeper level. It seems that the purpose behind the book is simply to tell a good story. It’s a simple story that a younger reader would enjoy.
There isn’t a whole lot I can say about the book. It wasn’t overly thought provoking, although I did find humor in all the differing definitions of “delicious.” Maybe the moral of the story is trying to teach us that we take some things for granted—things as simple as a cool glass of water—and we need to be more appreciative of what we have. That may be a little deep for a 7 year old, but it’s still a good lesson to discuss. Overall, I enjoyed it. It was witty and well written.