Life has been good for Christian since he was found in the forest by Edric, a lovable troll with a habit of getting his clichés mixed up. (“He’d buttered his bread, now he’d have to lie in it.”) After foiling Edric’s attempts to try to locate the his family, six-year-old Christian settles comfortably into the troll’s beautiful cave and befriends Beelzebub and Hecate, two big yet anything-but-fierce dogs: Beelzebub is more frightened of the little boy at their first meeting than the other way around, and Hecate only craves attention.
Edric’s annoyance at sharing his life with the boy fades as he realizes Christian is a resourceful child: not only can he read and write (useful in the troll’s latest letter-writing campaign), but he has a knack for inventing useful devices—such as an elevator to bring water up from the river—and discovering that many plants growing in the forest are edible. When not creating something or unearthing an item of value, Christian spends more and more time looking through his telescope at the terrace outside King Swithbert’s castle and watching the monarch, Queen Olympia, and their four young daughters—the pretty blonde triplets and the smaller, dark-haired princess.
Fast-forward twelve years, and Christian’s fascination with the royal family has grown—particularly with the youngest, who is so different from her frilly sisters and appearance-is-everything mother. The young man has a sudden inspiration: why not use one of their carrier pigeons to send a p-mail to the princess? (This is only one instance where Ferris makes an ingenious nod to modern-day technology without spoiling the once-upon-a-time feel of the story.) The budding correspondence between Christian and Princess Marigold sets in motion a chain of events that answers the question of Christian’s identity, reveals the reason why no one wants to touch the princess, and uncovers an evil scheme by Queen Olympia. Nonstop action, rib-tickling humor, unashamedly bad jokes (courtesy of Princess Marigold), a touch of romance, a bit of magic, and delightful characters combine to make this a must-read for boys and girls alike. 272 pages. Ages 10-14
Recommended by Barbara Karp, Librarian.