Drawing upon his Slovakian heritage, Bruchac (Bearwalker) spins a good-natured and humorous fairy tale set in the castle of Hladka Hvokra. The only intellectual in a family known more for kindness than deep thoughts, overserious Prince Rashko chafes at his brother's gullibility and his parents' foolishness, perpetually concerned for their safety. Soon after the king and queen leave on an unexpected trip, the ominous Baron Tenmy shows up at the front gates of the castle (" ‘[I]nvited guests' may not be the right words for a body of riders large enough to throw up so much dust," reflects Rashko. "Army of invaders is more like it"). As Tenmy and his entourage take up residence in the castle, announcing the betrothal of his daughter to Rashko's older brother, Rashko is forced to seek help, tapping into Hladka Hrovka's best-kept secrets to face his foes and discover his destiny. With its subtle focus on peaceful resistance and use of classic folk-tale elements, this story exudes a gentle sense of fun—even as the heroes battle dragons and evil wizards their victory is never in doubt. Ages 10–up. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/18/2011 Release date: 06/01/2011 Genre: Children's
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