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THE SWORD IN THE STOVE by Frank W.  Dormer Kirkus Star


by Frank W. Dormer ; illustrated by Frank W. Dormer

Pub Date: May 17th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4814-3167-5
Publisher: Atheneum

Two chefs solve one big mystery (albeit too late!) in this humorous spoof on the knight-and-dragon tale.

It’s mealtime, but where is Harold? Two cooks wonder about their knightly friend—but readers are in the know. He was last seen racing across the title page, searching for the loo. So onward the pair go until: “Holy haddock!” There’s a sword in the stove. Who could’ve put it there? Pirates? The absurdity builds (and so do the laughs) as the oven yields additional items. The pumpkin-headed chefs, like a classic comedy duo, play off each other, channeling Laurel and Hardy in both physique and demeanor; the author juxtaposes their differences to maximum effect. When the two agree the sword is Harold’s and his fate a dire one, a fiery whoosh interrupts the question of who would do such a thing. A hungry (and adorable-looking) dragon ready for dessert, that’s who! Young readers need not fear, as the last page reveals the chefs and Harold still alive, with a giggle-inducing punch line. Dormer’s illustrations fuel the text with their spontaneity and engaging compositions. His primitive watercolor shapes, expressive pencil marks, and clever use of a limited, warm palette reveal a sophisticated control of the medium. Through both text and art, he offers something for everyone (pirates! Vikings! inventive expletives! silliness!). Brilliantly designed down to a typeface that alludes to the story’s legendary associations, this book establishes itself as thoroughly modern.

A joyful, silly tale for the adventurer, boy or girl, young or old: medieval mayhem at its best.

(Picture book. 4-7)