By Aaron Becker
Walker Books, 2014

Reviewed by Janine Kitson

This wordless picture book invites young readers to enter a world of imagination and adventure. It should have great appeal for those students who find reading challenging or who have little English. The book visually engages the reader by actively asking that they “read” the images in order to make sense of this adventure story where two youngsters are on a quest to rescue a king.

The book opens with two young friends riding a tandem bike into the city where they seek shelter from the rain under the awnings of an old and magnificent building that looks a bit like parts of the Sydney Town Hall. As they stand beside an old door a king makes a sudden and surprising entry, seeking their help. He hands them a map and a piece of chalk before being whisked away by armed soldiers.

Alert and physically active, the two young friends are constantly moving as they swim, run, ride, and climb heights in their quest to rescue the king, who has been besieged in his medieval-like castle, with its towers and moats, that is in flames.

The book is a metaphor for the power of art and its creative protective powers. But powerful art needs cooperation as the two young friends draw the necessary objects to escape the clutches of the pursuing enemy soldiers.

This adventure picture book powerfully engages the reader to “read” and work out its puzzle in a world where the only words are in the reader’s head.

Available for borrowing from Federation Library.

Small group/pair discussion

1. What might the two young friends’ names be?
2. Do the friends ever feel fear? Would you feel fear if you had to do what they must do to complete the quest?
3. Who is the enemy? Why is the king captured? Why are the youngsters being chased?
4. What places does the book remind you of?
5. What might the next quest be?

Suggestions for learning activities

1. Create a dialogue between the two friends as they cycle into town and it rains.
2. Divide the class into different groups that are allocated different scenes to act out.
3. Research books on architecture. How are the buildings and places in this book similar to the pictures in the other books?
4. What motifs, images and symbols repeat themselves throughout the book?
5. Draw or write your own quest.

Janine Kitson is a relieving Country Organiser.