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THE KING’S TASTER by Kenneth Oppel


by Kenneth Oppel and illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher

Age Range: 4 - 6

Pub Date: June 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-075372-6
Publisher: HarperCollins

Narrated by a bespectacled beagle, Oppel’s pedantic offering mixes a “be your authentic self” vibe with an admonishment not to spoil your appetite with sweets. “I’m the king’s taster, but I’m the cook’s dog,” says Max. When the new boy-king rebuffs Cook’s efforts, Max and Cook undertake a series of overnight travels in search of delectably palatable recipes to tempt his majesty. The forays yield predictable but tempting results: fries from France, pizza from Venice (not Napoli?) and “chili tacos” from Mexico, all summarily rejected—and ejected—by the bratty king. Once ratted out (thanks to Max) for eating those appetite-suppressing sweets, the king becomes a convert to Cook’s cuisine. “Ask me for anything…and it shall be yours!” he raves. Accordingly, the last spread depicts both Cook’s dream-come-true and the story arc’s conclusion, with Cook and Max outside their own eatery, a pub called “The King’s Taster.” Workmanlike collages by the accomplished Fancher and Johnson combine textiles, scrawled recipes and painterly elements in a muted, Old World palette that matches the ambitious plotting. (Picture book. 4-6)