- The King of Kazoo
- written and illustrated by Norm Feuti
- published by Graphix/Scholastic (2016)
- Roar Score: 4/5
I’ll admit it: I was unfamiliar with Norm Feuti before The King of Kazoo arrived at my door. But fewer than 10 pages in and I was a fan. With this book, Feuti has created something that is both familiar and fresh.
King Cornelius (the titular king of the land of Kazoo) is a bit of an idiot. He came into his position and inherited a country at peace, and he hasn’t yet had a chance to earn an epithet (like those that came before him, such as Founder of the City, Defender of the Realm, or Simplifier of the Taxes).
Cornelius spends his days “thinking kingly thoughts” and suggesting inane solutions to non-problems. In short, he’s pretty much a joke.
But thankfully his daughter, Bing, is there to save him. Imagine Inspector Gadget and Penny, and you’ve pretty much got a handle on their dynamic. There’s also the king’s inventor Torq, who just built the very first “gonkless carriage.”
What’s a gonk? Well, think of a kangaroo crossed with a Snork. They’re the workhorses of Kazoo, so a gonkless carriage is…well, it’s a car. And no one seems to appreciate it once Cornelius tears through town and causes general mayhem.
But when a piece of Mount Kazoo mysteriously blows up, Cornelius sees an opportunity to earn his epithet and cement his legacy. So he grabs Bing and Torq, and the three set out on a roadtrip to investigate the explosion.
Along the way, they encounter belligerent frogs, a semi-self-aware robot, magical portal chalk, and zombie townsfolk. Yeah, it’s pretty great.
The story is, in places, a bit too by-the-numbers, but Feuti adds enough quirkiness and fun twists that it’s a joy to read. His art is also adorable, and we can only hope this is the first of a planned series.
Bing is a wonderful protagonist and heroine, and I’d love to see a story focused on her adventures with the silent Torq. I’m thinking Torq would make a fantastic Q to Bing’s 007.
(Disclosure: Scholastic provided me with a review copy of this book. All opinions remain my own.)