Review: ‘The King of Kazoo’

The King of Kazoo By Norm Feuti Scholastic Graphix, 2016 Grades 3-6 Cornelius, the King of Kazoo, wants to be famous—like his distinguished predecessors—but he’s not sure what he will be famous for. Cluelessness seems his most notable attribute: When his daughter Bing runs in to tell him that a tunnel has mysteriously appeared in […]

The King of Kazoo header

The King of Kazoo
By Norm Feuti
Scholastic Graphix, 2016
Grades 3-6

Cornelius, the King of Kazoo, wants to be famous—like his distinguished predecessors—but he’s not sure what he will be famous for. Cluelessness seems his most notable attribute: When his daughter Bing runs in to tell him that a tunnel has mysteriously appeared in a nearby mountain, he ignores her, focusing instead on a new invention, the automobile (or, as he calls it, the Cornelius Carriage, ignoring the fact that it was invented by an engineer, Torq).

The King of KazooAn explosion on the mountain brings the hijinks to a halt, however, and Cornelius, Bing, and Torq set out in the carriage to find out what caused it. As they go along, Cornelius continues to get everything wrong, but Bing (who can use magic) and Torq (who does not speak but is an excellent mechanic) come up with ingenious ways to get out of every scrape. After an eventful trip, including an encounter with the frog people of the Kroaker Swamp, they get to the mountain and find that an alchemist from their village has built a robot and has put a spell on the townspeople to turn them into his servants. His plan is to revive the dormant volcano under the mountain in order to create a special “smart metal” to make the robot come alive—and, he reveals, to destroy the kingdom, where his feats were never appreciated. In the action-packed climax, Bing and Torq thwart his plan with a combination of science (dynamite) and magic (a freezing spell) to convert the eruption to a giant snowball; the king does his part by using his ability as a leader to get the townspeople, newly liberated from their spell, to follow him to escape. In the end, the newly sentient robot is no longer a threat but a chess partner for the king, and the king has realized that he needs to stop being so self-centered and share credit-and responsibility.

The King of Kazoo is a sort of magical fable, then, with the moral that we all have our own strengths-even the conceited king makes use of his leadership talents to save the villagers in the clutch-and that it takes different kinds of talents to make a successful kingdom. The characters are delightful, there’s plenty of humor, and Feuti’s cartoony art makes this a fun read. My only quibble would be with the coloring, which seems harsh and cold; making the characters plain white was not a great choice. With Feuti’s linear style, any color would have worked. But that aside, The King of Kazoo is a fun, old-fashioned adventure story that fans of Monsters Beware and other magical fantasy adventure tales will enjoy.

(Bonus: Here’s what Kirkus and Elizabeth Bird had to say.)

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