The King’s Sixth Finger

Jolby and Rachel Roellke Coddington, illus. by Jolby. Gingko, $16.95 (42p) ISBN 978-1-58423-474-6
This collaboration between design studio Jolby and Coddington, originally self-published in 2010, introduces a royal with a one-track (or maybe five-track) mind: “There once was a simple king named Mortimer/ who had an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder-er./ ‘I must have 5 of everything!’ the king would cry out/ and all of the villagers followed suit without doubt.” Reminiscent of the work of Calef Brown, Jolby’s whimsically abstract graphics demonstrate the extent of Mortimer’s obsession: his castle has five moats; he high-fives his mountain giant friends; and he rides around on a “5-legged Meacock” bird. His worldview topples, however, when he inexplicably grows a sixth finger. A cure is offered, requiring a dragon’s scale and a witch, but after listening to his advisers’ byzantine ideas about how to carry out the mission, the king decides it’s easier just to embrace all numbers, leading to the moral, “Be willing to change/ when life deals you a finger!” This neatly packaged fable evokes retro animated shorts from Sesame Street or Rocky and Bullwinkle; the invocation of OCD, though, feels like a misstep, especially given the glib ending. Ages 6–9. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
Genre: Children's
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