Cut-paper silhouettes illustrate this large-format tale of a young prince’s efforts to break the chains of loneliness and isolation imposed on him by his high station.
Rendered unappealing by an interminable and pedestrian text, illegible by virtue of many pages of gray type on black or dark blue backgrounds, and leaden of spirit thanks to the dingy palette, this overblown effort starts sinking as soon as it leaves the dock. Surrounded by adults and always knowing that “his destiny was to reign,” a prince finds solace in drawing an imaginary village with ultraviolet ink on his bed curtains, rambling about an abandoned attic, and sneaking off into town at night to wander about and, er, sing: “Like a fox, I am always looking / But I don’t know quite what for. / The people nobody thinks about, that’s whose side I’m on.” Finally a jejune promise left by his father (whom he’d hardly ever seen) that he need never feel lonely because “I will always be here. / Deep in your heart…” leaves him wanting “to tear off all his clothes and dive head first into this swirling sea of life.” How he gets on, naked or otherwise, will be covered in a pair of planned sequels. The jacket unfolds into a large poster containing a different but similarly incoherent manifesto in cut-out letters.
Dim and dismal. (Illustrated fiction. 11-13, adult)