Old School Wednesdays is a regular Book Smuggler feature. We came up with the idea towards the end of 2012, when both Ana and Thea were feeling exhausted from the never-ending inundation of New and Shiny (and often over-hyped) books. What better way to snap out of a reading fugue than to take a mini-vacation into the past?
Logo designed by the wonderful KMont
Title: The Search for Delicious
Author: Natalie Babbitt
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: First published 1969
Paperback: 176 pages
The Prime Minister is compiling a dictionary, and when no one at court can agree on the meaning of “delicious,” the King sends his twelve-year-old messenger, Gaylan, to poll the citizenry. Gaylan soon discovers that the entire kingdom is on the brink of civil war, and must enlist help to define “delicious” and save the country.
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
How did I get this book: Bought
Format (e- or p-): ebook
This is another entry in a series of Old School Wednesdays posts, brought to you by the amazing folks who supported us on Kickstarter. As one reward level, backers were given the opportunity to pick an Old School title for one of us to read and review online.
A lovely mix of fairytale with politics and coming of age, The Search for Delicious starts with Prime Minister DeCree’s dictionary writing. A seemingly simple task that starts with agreeable definitions such “Affectionate is your dog” and “Bulky is a big bag of boxes” soon becomes a huge problem when DeCree reaches D and his definition of “Delicious” as “Delicious is fried fish” – because no one in the palace agrees with this. The King says it should be apples, the Queen says it should be Christmas Pudding and soon enough things escalate to a point where people start to get concerned about a civil war. Especially when a villainous member of the Royal Family starts to spread Fake News.
Since folks cannot unanimously agree on what Delicious is, things will have to be resolved democratically by compiling every single citizen’s opinion – the pick that has the majority will become the official Delicious entry. To do that, DeCree sends his twelve year old foster son Gaylen to talk to everybody in the kingdom.
In his travels, Gaylen will meet regular folks as well as figures from a fairy tale that started a long time ago and whose story is still ongoing. He will realise not only that many different things are Delicious but also that people can be fools. Also, Fake News: it’s a thing in the book.
I was reading The Search of Delicious and having trouble conciliating how something silly can turn into something serious fast when I saw Donald Trump’s tweets at Iran and I said to myself… “ah, that’s how”.
“That doesn’t sound like civil war to me,” said Gaylen, turning back to his book with a smile. “It only sounds silly.”
“Of course it’s silly,” said the Prime Minister impatiently. “But a lot of serious things start silly.”
The topic of personal responsibility (“it is nothing to me”) underlines most of the story following Gaylen’s impossible, difficult and often lonely task all the way to its happy conclusion.
I enjoyed reading this lovely piece of Middle Grade history!
Rating: 7 – Very good