K. P. Bath, Author , illus. by David Christiana. Little, Brown $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-10848-5

Laughs abound in the pages of Bath's delightful debut fantasy. In the "admittedly hard to find" Barony of Cant, the orphaned Lucy Wickwright works as a servant to the hilariously inept Pauline, heir to the throne in a land where all the politicians embrace "the noble pastime of chewing gum." While on a visit to the chief astronomer, Luigi Lemonjello (a man who "was quite content never to set his foot on the ground"), Lucy is mistaken for a member of the Cause, a rebellion that blames all of society's ills on gum chewing. The astronomer taps Lucy to deliver money to the imprisoned freedom fighter Arden Gutz, who in turn convinces her to retrieve his confiscated, unpublished manifesto on the evils of gum. The larger story reveals Lucy's mysterious past and her connection to the royal family of Cant. These ties put her in the sights of the evil Vladimir Orloff ("the foul enemy of our glorious Cause," according to Arden Gutz), who is jockeying for the throne and has secrets of his own. Bath weaves together these threads into a satisfying plot twist. The politicians' addiction to exotic, imported gum works well as political satire and also sheer silliness, and the author nimbly balances British-tinged comedy with medieval-flavored court intrigue even as he sets his tale in the present (Lucy sports T-shirts and blue jeans). Readers will hope that the ending points to a sequel. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 291 pages - 978-1-4156-6962-4
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4193-6689-5
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