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HORRENDO’S CURSE by Anna Fienberg

HORRENDO’S CURSE

By Anna Fienberg

Age Range: 10 - 13

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2002
ISBN: 1-55037-773-6
Publisher: Annick Press

In this agenda-heavy but comic tale, a lad brings peace between a pirate crew and the town it terrorizes by combining culinary wizardry and an inability to say anything that’s not nice. As years of depredation have turned everyone else in the village rude and sour, Horrendo, having had a Charming Spell laid on him at birth by the local Wise Woman, has always stood out for his total inability to criticize. Just as pirates are swooping down to kidnap all the 12-year-old boys, as they do every year, that same Wise Woman gives Horrendo a small box of powder that, she claims, will bring out the magic in any food. So it proves to be: in no time, Horrendo has tamed all of the crude, violent pirates except their brutal Captain with daily feasts of lobster Mornay and other yummy dishes. As soon as he sees how his crew has been turned, the outraged Captain forces Horrendo to walk the plank; however, extolling the benefits of teamwork and cooperation, Horrendo swiftly engineers an escape for himself and his fellow kidnappees. Strewing the dialogue with colorful invective—“ ‘You greasy ball of frog spawn, you burst boil on the back of the neck, you smelly sock left under the bed to rot . . . ’ ”—and granting the cast equally colorful names, like Scabrous and Rascal, Fienberg unites pirates (minus the Captain, who despite plenty of fighting and bloodshed, is the tale’s only casualty) and villagers in the end in a plan to build a tavern for Horrendo to cook in, and a school where the children can “ ‘get to have real books and colored pencils and educational conversations.’ ” The Lessons are hammered home, but the farce that delivers them is witty enough to keep readers thoroughly amused. The occasional illustrations are oddly dim, but provide appropriate caricatures. (Fiction. 10-13)