Young Nick outfoxes a greedy knight as well as a company of thieves to rescue his oppressed medieval village.
The setting here is an age-worn town, sometime in the Middle Ages, with a Central European feel, venerable but struggling under the boot of a bloated, cruel tyrant. Nick has been forced into servitude at Sir Nestor the Nasty’s castle because his mother is in debt to the knight. Nestor has more than he will ever have need, but that’s the point: Greed breeds greed. All day long, it’s chop wood, fetch water, do the dishes, and then do it again. Nick connives to make his escape and stumbles into the knight’s treasury in the process. He grabs one glowing coin and swings to freedom, only to land in the hands of a band of robbers who are only too happy to have someone to chop their wood, fetch water, and do the dishes. But Nick plays on their greed and soon enough has them swimming in the moat with Nestor’s alligators, right along with Nestor, as he puts the golden coin to good work. On one level, the story is simple fun, as are the illustrations, but scratch it just a little and it has much to say about the universality of greed and how wealth finds meaning when it is put to use for the common good.
A nicely etched story of doing the right thing in a trying world. (Picture book. 4-8)