Book Review: St. George, Rusty Knight and Monster Tamer by John Powell

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When I requested John Powell’s Saint George: Rusty Knight and Monster Tamer from NetGalley sometime last year, I confess I totally thought it was going to be a story of the legend of St. George, who is often portrayed as a slayer of dragons. That, of course, wasn’t the case at all (ha, oops!), but it was a really enjoyable read. Part of the novelty for my daughter was reading together on my Kindle (ooohhh! exciting!), but she really did enjoy the book and so did I.

The Goodreads synopsis is super short:

Humorous tales about an impoverished knight in old England who discovers a way to tame the great variety of monsters that roam the land in the days of Good King Freddie the Umteenth and his prime minister Merlin the Whirlin.

“Humorous” is the perfect word to describe the story. If I remember correctly, Powell says in the beginning of the book that he originally came up with these stories as bedtime stories for his kids – and you can tell! They’re just funny and perfectly geared toward little kids. They follow a predictable structure (all of them start with “Now it was in the days of Good King Freddie…”) and in each story Saint George has to take on some ridiculous monster problem or another – which usually can be solved by providing the monsters with the magical, monster-taming marmorguglehupf cake (my daughter thought that word was hilarious).

The stories are full of all sorts of absurdities with names just as outlandish as marmorguglehupf cake, ideas like George’s “armor-on week” and “armor-off week” (during which he sleeps – for the whole week!), and other silly, non-sensical things (like a king who can’t read!). The crazy names and nonsense action reminded me a good deal of Roald Dahl, and prompted the same kind of laughter from my daughter as did The BFG. There were only two drawbacks for me with the books: 1) each story was a little too long to be a bedtime read-aloud but it didn’t work to break them up so we just pushed through a whole story in each sitting; and 2) there was one entire story that REALLY is not suited for American kids – or their parents! We just couldn’t follow the thread on playing cricket (our loss, though – I’m sure to a British kid the story would’ve been as hilarious as the rest).

All in all, I’d give it 4 stars and definitely recommend it! I think it’ll be another year or two before my next daughter is ready for it, but I’ll look forward to rereading the silliness with her when she’s ready!

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