Hunter’s (Lucky Horseshoes, 2012) colorful YA folk tale about a poor boy named Yubi who goes on a quest with a copper vessel, a sea urchin shell and a talking rat to save a princess.
Orphan boy Yubi, working in the lavender mill of the mythical kingdom of Lavendula, is chosen by the town’s old witch to give the ruling family’s daughter, Princess Anjali, a magic copper vase. When the princess goes missing the next day, the town elders throw the witch, Isabella, into the sea and burn her cave while seeking the one who gave the princess the copper vase. Before the witch’s cave is burned, the boy steals another copper vase, along with a magic sea urchin shell, and meets up with a magical talking blue-tailed rat named Alex as he escapes the town elders by going to sea. While on the ship, Yubi discovers that thugs, lead by Cross-Eyed Org, kidnapped the princess and sold her to the sultan on the order of the town elders, who seek to reign in her stead. The tale, told unevenly in varying styles, includes words that kids (and adults) are unlikely to know, e.g., “lokum.” A game called Fiasco, with its convoluted rules and odd lingo—“Tie for high,” “lost the trick”— may also baffle readers. A negative portrayal of gypsies as stereotypical greedy kidnappers and thieves further mars the storytelling: “One sly-eyed gypsy with a huge hooked nose hollered at the cornered pair, ‘We want your gold!’ ” Still, Yubi’s ability to escape harm and survive each action-packed chapter speeds the story along, as does the orphan’s bravery in surmounting obstacles, his kindly concern for all living things and his intention to rescue Princess Anjali. The magic copper vases, one of which turns into a flying saucer, and the talking rat, who is really more wizard than rodent, all add imagination and interest to the adventure.
An occasionally confusing but engaging, adventure-filled fantasy.