Being monarch of the mushroom people turns out to require more than just giving orders and chowing down on sweets.
As in prior series episodes, the pleasure lies at least as much in inspecting the paneled illustrations for surreal details and peculiar creatures as it does in following the plotline. Finding a crown and scepter on the forest floor, lazy Kiki—looking like nothing so much as a mittenlike, purple hand puppet—is immediately beguiled by the adulation and subservience of the motley crowd of fungi that rushes up to proclaim him king. Other residents of the Hotel Strange are less sanguine about this new status, but they agree to humor him. Then the idyll comes to a quick end when Kiki discovers that the royal palace is being eaten by a horde of voracious “croco-mites.” Worse yet, when the mites combine into a mammoth “croco-monster” after efforts to capture them fail, it looks like the hotel and its staff are next on the menu. Marietta and pipe-smoking Celestin, both light-skinned, childlike figures, lead a cast otherwise notably diverse in shape, species, and color to an end that is, thanks to the sudden return of the real Mushroom King with a remedy, happy for all including the mites.
A recipe for hazelnut fondant (1 cup hazelnut flour, 5 eggs!) caps this latest outing to the bustling hotel in an appropriately delectable way. (Graphic fantasy. 7-11)