King Flashypants and the Evil Emperor by Andy Riley
|King Flashypants and the Evil Emperor by Andy Riley|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A new series is launched from a wildly creative comic artist, but while this is exuberant enough it doesn't have the flash of sheer novelty needed.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: July 2016|
|Publisher: Hodder Children's Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Meet King Edwin. Like all nine year old kings, he likes nothing better than buying all the chocolates in the land with all the pocket money in the land, and giving it back to his peasants. (They're nice peasants, because he's a nice king.) But the problem there is that bit about 'all the pocket money in the land', for when it runs out and all his soldiers (nice ones, obviously) are busy checking down the back of every sofa in the land for lost change, the evil Emperor Nurbison in the territory next door finds a great opportunity to invade. And the people, ideas and dragons he's bringing with him are certainly not so nice…
OK, it's not a real dragon, and the ideas he comes with aren't that great either. And I'm very surprised to see me type this, but I think that's the fault of Andy Riley, in not having the best collection of ideas for this. I was sure after seeing several of his priceless cartoon collections over the decades that he would take to children's fiction like a duck to water. Well, there is a lot of paddling under the waterline, that gives a fine exuberance to these pages, but there's a placidity visible too – this doesn't strike me as nearly inventive, novel or gag-filled as needed.
Yes, the adventure is reasonable enough, with a stuttering attempt by King Edwin to win his kingdom and peasantry back, but I felt the attempts to make things a touch more wacky didn't quite work. There's a girl desperately trying to get the adults on an even keel, who seems to be moonlighting from other people's books, the story features a song because that's the done thing since Lamonic Bibber days and the adult-only humour relies on people being old enough to remember Link Ray. The illustrations, which are present on every spread, didn't particularly make me laugh, beyond a couple of fun captions here and there.
That said I do feel the series cannot be written off at this stage. The tiny cast of characters is evidently strong enough to last several further adventures, and the knowingness (Edwin needed something to cheer him up, and fast. So he did that double clap that kings do when they want attention) adds warmth to the proceedings. The biggest fault with this book is not an inherent problem in and of itself, it is just that it is a tried-and-tested format joining a crowded market, already full of what makes this so familiar. I thought to find something a lot more bizarrely original.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
I think the girl giving a cameo is possibly the one in Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers by John Dougherty – that series certainly beat the Riley for looking at children and/or a couple of ruling people having wacky times.
You can read more book reviews or buy King Flashypants and the Evil Emperor by Andy Riley at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy King Flashypants and the Evil Emperor by Andy Riley at Amazon.com.
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