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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Quest, by Aaron Becker. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2014. $18.00 ages 4 and up




When we left them in Journey (2013), the friends were riding their tandem bike. As we might have hoped, our first glimpse of them in Quest shows them riding that same bike, and full of concern for the approaching storm. A purple quetzal accompanies them.

As their new adventure gets under way, they find shelter under a bridge. The bird is with them. So are the crayons they and purple. The bike leans against one of the bridge's walls. Our focus is clearly on them; that is, until a king bursts through a magical door, and hands them a map before soldiers appear and take him into their custody. The king tosses an orange crayon that the children retrieve as he is being led away.

So begins their quest. They first need keys to follow the king through the locked door. Luckily, they can draw them. Once through the tunnel, they come upon a huge castle. Held prisoner and aboard a boat, the king sails past the castle's walls. It's time to check their map. It has six colored circles, showing six different crayon colors, all needed to defeat the enemies of his kingdom. The circles give guidance to the hiding place for each of those crayons.

They visit an underwater world, find the crayon and escape just in time. On they go, finding each of the hidden crayons as they make their way around the map. Their quest is dangerous and the action ensures the attention of those sharing it. Luckily, their crayons work to help them escape the soldiers who are following them. When it looks like their goose is cooked, and they will be unable to elude capture by the enemy forces any longer, the gathered crayons and their companion quetzal ensure that good wins out over evil. Let the celebration begin!

Aaron Becker fills the pages with such careful attention to detail that young readers will want to spend additional time poring over the illustrations and bravely accompanying the two protagonists as they strive to bring peace to the king's people and land. A celebratory rhino ride returns them to the tunnel from which their quest began, appropriately crowned by a thankful king.

Where to next, young adventurers?


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