Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Search for Delicious

I love re-reading the books that Madeleine and Henry loved to Charlotte.  This is one.  Unfortunately somewhere along the lines we lost the dust jacket which was decorated with drawings by Natalie Babbitt herself. 

Natalie Babbitt 1969

This story is quite clever and has a bit of everything.  A boy, Galen, goes on a quest for his kingdom.  The prime minister is compiling a dictionary, but when he gets to the word "delicious" everyone seems to have a different opinion of what it means.  The queen contends that "delicious" is Christmas pudding.  The king insists it to be apples.  To avoid a fight, Galen is sent around the kingdom to record every one's definition of "delicious". 

Meanwhile the queen's brother, Hemlock, has been out stirring up trouble and soon the kingdom is on the brink of a civil war all because of a word.  Underneath it all is the story of a mermaid who has lost her doll and ancient dwarfs and a woldweller (keeper of the forest) high in the trees.  They all intersect is an exciting, beautiful way.

It took a couple weeks of reading every night (and a couple times after lunch) but Charlotte loved it.

 "That's right," crowed the woldweller.  "It is small.  And flimsy.  You've got nothing that lasts, you know.  That's not the first town that ever stood there.  There was one before that and one before that one, on back for nine hundred years.  I've seen it all," he said quietly and his eyes went vague and cloudy.  "Around and around.  Coming and going like the spokes of a wheel for hundreds of years.  It's nothing to me."

Galen sat in the moonlight beside the lake and thought about all that had happened since the day the pole began.  Past his mind's eye streamed all the faces he had seen, all the kind, angry, laughing, anxious faces that had peopled the days of his great adventure.  And he remembered, too, those others:  the woldweller's gray cheeks fixed into furrows like the bark of a tree;  the dwarfs, impassive and calm as the mountains themselves;  the wind that spoke through a hundred wayward, invisible mouths;  and Ardis with her eyes wet and unfathomable as the lake that glimmered before him.  He leaned over and studied the dim reflection of his own face in the water.  Young and skinny, he decided, and tired and worried, too.  A transient, changeable, ageable face.  A people face.  "And that's where I belong," he said to himself at last. 

Other books by Natalie Babbitt:

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