Rutabaga the Adventure Chef: Book 1 by Eric Colossal
|Rutabaga the Adventure Chef: Book 1 by Eric Colossal|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A sprightly, amusing comic for the young fantasy reader – with added recipes. Of course.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 128||Date: March 2015|
|Publisher: Abrams Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Meet the latest adventurer to scour the land. He has a talent for finding the obscure and seeking out the rare, and surviving all the undignified fates the world has in store. He even has a magical companion. He will be open to any challenge set upon him, from locating dragon-smiting swords to besting the largest, most locally loved, rival. He is Rutabaga, and he is, of course, a chef.
The truth of the matter, as any fantasy reader will tell you, is while so many quests may be constructed and told to us in the most forensic detail, so seldom do we learn what the heroes are eating. (Neither do they ever have a need on their treks to go behind a bush, or similar, but that's another subject.) Clearly there was a need to redress that, and obviously a world where we learn how the fantasy hero gathers whatever ingredients come his way and what he cooks up with them is only to be welcomed. In reality, of course, that's more than a little debatable. But the merit of the book is not the cooking in this fantasy world or the fact that it has been done at all, but that it has been done with such well-meaning, earnestly enjoyable chutzpah.
The dishes themselves – King's Head Squash soup, stuffed korkanis pinwheels – are just one remove from what a child used to their way round a kitchen might be cooking at home when not reading, which is further evidence of the way this book is just an oddball touch away from the expected – but in a good way. There's the fact that the various adventures – this book being in several short chapters with often the barest minimum to link them – are also just a little off-kilter. But there's also the way that, however greatly the cookery element of the writing is sustained, the book also maintains a good level of comedy throughout. Some of the pages may be too bluntly in the style of American newspaper funnies - building to a yuck and nothing else, but on the whole Colossal the creator here does come up with something pretty clever (if his artwork is never specifically pretty itself).
I won't put my neck out very far and say it'll be ideal for a large audience, or that it is completely successful, witty and clever. But it does have the brio and compassion – and more than enough oddball invention – to keep a series of these books sustained. Under-tens will definitely find some affinity with the energy of the telling, but I do sense that even they will find something possibly too schizophrenic in the amalgam of real and surreal, cuisine and questing. Still, for a book this far out, there is no set right nor wrong way to go about it – and what is clear is that Colossal has the conviction to put a singular stamp on his wacky ideas.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson is part of a series of stand-alones that suitably add a comic quest to what's available for young readers.
You can read more book reviews or buy Rutabaga the Adventure Chef: Book 1 by Eric Colossal at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Rutabaga the Adventure Chef: Book 1 by Eric Colossal at Amazon.com.
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