Book Reviews,  Reviews

Book Review: King Billy and the Royal Road (a parent’s perspective)

Review by: Katalin Patnaik

I was very excited about this book because I would like my kids to get into tarot, and I thought this might serve as an inspiration – apart from me using the cards to tell them bedtime stories.

My elder son is six years old; exactly the age this book was meant for, so instead of his normal bedtime story I read him young Billy’s rhyming adventure through the Major Arcana. Well, how should I put it…

 

 

He was engaged, and enjoyed the rhymes
Even though they were slightly off at times
And hadn’t made much narrative sense.

He asked some questions and made some queries
Of why Billy craved only crisps and candies
And why was he so very dense.

A good boy like me, he said
Would eat cheese on toast bread
And some stew if was left from dinner.

But Billy was spoiled
And that’s why he toyed
With his food, like he was a sinner.

Sinner he was as the Pope declared
Then he just vanished and never cared
For an explanation to be told

As to why things were happening
Or what was the reasoning
Behind the plot to so unfold.

Despite these slight flaws
We read it till it closed
And we found out what was the end

Which led to more confusion
But have no delusion
That at last Billy did transcend.

Excuse my bad rhyming, people. To sum it up, we found the rhymes a bit stretched, and the story a bit wishy-washy and at times utterly nonsensical. Why certain things were happening was never explained, and even though I have more than a decade of experience with Tarot, I couldn’t connect those happenings to the meanings of the specific cards they were meant to represent, let alone my son making sense of them. He constantly asked “Why did he do that?” and “Why did this happen?” and I really had to think hard to come up with a somewhat satisfying answer.

I was curious of how Mr Ajuonuma would deal with the more difficult cards, such as Death and the Tower, especially because the book was meant for kids. He managed them in an absolutely non-scary way though, hardly paying them any attention and quickly resolving any issues that rose from encountering them through a mysterious girl who just appeared when help was needed and vanished as soon as she was done.

The one thing my son and I both liked were the pictures. They are in black and white, but Beverley Young’s heart-warming style gives the book a much needed breeze of fun.

When I asked my son if he liked the book, he answered “I liked it a little bit.” He is a little diplomat, so this would translate to “let’s not have it again please.” Maybe when he is a bit older he will have more fun with it, but at the moment he doesn’t seem to like it very much.

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This was one of two reviews we decided to write here at TABI, in order to give a balanced perspective.  If you want more, you can read another review here: Book Review: King Billy and the Royal Road (a teacher’s perspective)

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Book: King Billy and the Royal Road

Author: RC Ajuonuma

Artist: Beverly Young

Publisher: Silverwood Books 2017

4 Comments

    • rcajuonuma

      Hi, I’m the author of King Billy and the Royal Road and I have to say that the Tabi reviews do not at all reflect the general response to my book in the Tarot blogging community. If you Google my book, you’ll find that every other reviewer has loved it and pointed out how well it translates the Tarot’s insights for a young audience. Of course, a person’s response to a book can only ever be their own. I would just ask that you consider some other views before making up your mind either way. Best wishes, RC Ajuonuma.

      • Katalin Patnaik

        Chloe, this is my strictly personal view on the book and when our blog wrangler comes back from holiday I’ll ask her to edit it because I now realise it comes across as a bit negative, which was definitely NOT my intention – the difficulty with written word is that it can be misunderstood so easily! I have read many fantastic reviews, from big names, too!

        As I said, my son WAS engaged, and I know from his questions that he was listening. Maybe I’m just the odd egg that didn’t get it! To give you a hint of what kind of a reader I am: I am not fond of Alice in Wonderland either… and it even has blockbuster movie adaptations! So do give it a go, for my sake! Let me know what you think of it!

      • Katalin Patnaik

        Dear Mr Ajuonuma,

        I’m sure it’s only me not clicking with your book; I have seen many excellent reviews. I do like the concept and the format it is written in, and I love rhymes, so I just might be the exception that proves the rule!

        I do recommend it to parents, but maybe not for a 5-8 years old, rather for 7-9 years old audience. 🙂

        Kindest regards,
        Katalin Patnaik

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