"A BARREL OF LAUGHS, A VALE OF TEARS" by Jules Feiffer

"A BARREL OF LAUGHS, A VALE OF TEARS"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Callow Prince Roger sets out eagerly on a quest and finds a few adventures, a lot of friends, a damsel or two in distress (not!), and himself, in the end. A ""carrier of joy"" whose mere presence causes everyone to laugh uncontrollably, Roger finds cruelty and kindness equally amusing, and expects his quest to be a lark. It's anything but: As Roger passes through the Forever Forest, nearly starves at the Dastardly Divide, sees people at their worst in the Valley of Vengeance, and temporarily despairs in the Mountains of Malice, he sobers up, learns to care for others, becomes an expert peacemaker, does Good Deeds, and falls in love with Lady Sadie, who says what she thinks as she repeatedly saves his bacon. The plotting is as wild and loose as the black-and-white drawings Feiffer (Man in the Ceiling, 1993, etc.) scatters throughout; to his oft-expressed annoyance, a character named Tom--the nearest thing to a villain here--keeps walking off the page, then diving back into the story at unexpected moments to work mischief. Tom also visits some other books, including The Phantom Tollbooth (1961)--an appropriate conjuring, as this mixture of allegory and urbane, self-conscious literary doodling will appeal to the same audience.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1995
Page count: 180pp
Publisher: HarperCollins