cover image King Arthur’s Very Great Grandson

King Arthur’s Very Great Grandson

Kenneth Kraegel. Candlewick, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5311-8

With King Arthur’s DNA swirling in his wiry little body, it’s only natural that six-year-old Henry Alfred Grummorson would want to go on a monster-battling quest. The thing is, every monster he encounters—be it a terrible dragon, a dreaded cyclops, or the “most to be feared” leviathan—seems to have the DNA of Ferdinand the Bull. Ordered to “unsheathe your claws and let us have ado!” an elaborately feathered griffin instead offers a game of chess. “I prefer black. Is that ok?” it asks eagerly. Although the wrap-up is too pat, considering what precedes it, debut author Kraegel proves he’s a talent to be reckoned with. He has a Monty Pythonesque sense of language, humor, pacing, and character—the text’s mixture of bombastic and deadpan deliveries makes for a stirring read-aloud. This fine sense of the epically absurd also animates Kraegel’s rococo watercolor and ink renderings: in his hands, a dragon’s scales coalesce into an intricate mosaic, a tree is a swirl of mazelike lines, and the sea becomes a tangled mass of blue ribbons. Ages 5–8. Agent: Ronnie Herman, the Herman Agency. (July)