Synopses & Reviews
Welcome to Portocristo, its clear skies, sandy beaches, bustling streets--and its spoiled rotten, six-year-old king. The little despot is grouchy, whiny, outrageous...everything you'd hate to find in a boy on a throne. But here in Portocristo, anything he says goes, no matter how bizarre or harebrained. Sit back and watch young King Ethelbert swap his country's kids for Ethelbert robots, test his bodyguard's mettle by putting a price on his own head, shrink the world down to his size, bring a dinosaur back from the past...And that's only a tiny taste of the zaniness ahead. Trondheim's deliciously inventive writing, coupled with artwork evoking the classic, wacky styles of Mr. Magoo and Pink Panther, ensure an experience as memorable as kangaroos bouncing on pogo-sticks.
"Selfish, short-tempered, unscrupulous, stubborn, and willing to do anything to get what he wants' that's King Ethelbert, the pint-size monarch of the nation of Portocristo in Trondheim's hilarious series of illustrated stories, originally serialized between 2001 and 2004. Ethelbert rules the way any six-year-old would requiring his chef to build gigantic sundaes so he can eat just one bite, demanding to see Santa Claus in person, passing a law that makes him the automatic winner of all television game shows ('The King of Portocristo ran his country as a pig might an aircraft carrier,' writes his court biographer). Even his good intentions end up going spectacularly wrong, as when he decides to make amends to the parents of his kingdom for a botched plan by sending each family a live alligator ('That way, parents will be able to make fashionable backpacks for their children.' An ongoing competition with his cousin Sigismund for the hand of the wealthy Princess Hildegardina provides a bit of continuity to the chapters, but by and large it is a collection of brief, stand-alone episodes, rendered in a quirky visual style that channels a blend of The Pink Panther and John Kricfalusi. Ages 8-up. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Review in March 15th 2007 issue of Booklist
Young Ethelbert, the pint-size child-king of the tiny country of Portocristo, rules with the whims of a kid. He demands a meeting with Santa Claus, he puts a price on his own head to test the skills of his new bodyguard, he makes a deal with pirates to create bootleg Ethelbert memorabilia, and he causes trouble for everyone on his staff, from his chef to Miss Prime Minister. And his adventures are as funny and outrageous as one would expect, with Trondheim delivering comical episodes that are both kid- and adult-friendly, calling to mind the fractured fairy tales from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Parme's art, a tribute to Isadore "Friz" Freleng's cartoons of the 1970's, is perfectly styled for the story, creating the flavor of an animated short that's ready to leap to life. A real treat for classic-cartoon fans of many ages. Review in March 5th 2007 Publisher's Weekly
"Selfish, short-tempered, unscrupulous, stubborn, and willing to do anything to get what he wants"—that's King Ethelbert, the pint-size monarch of the nation of Portocristo in Trondheim's hilarious series of illustrated stories, originally serialized between 2001 and 2004. Ethelbert rules the way any six-year-old would—requiring his chef to build gigantic sundaes so he can eat just one bite, demanding to see Santa Claus in person, passing a law that makes him the automatic rules of all television game shows ("The King of Portocristo ran his country as a pig might an aircraft carrier," writes his court biographer). Even his good intentions end up going spectacularly wrong, as when he decides to make amends to the parents of his kingdom for a botched plan by sending each family a live alligator ("That way, parents will be able to make fashionable backpacks for their children"). An ongoing competition with his cousin Sigismund for the hand of wealthy Princess Hildegardina provides a bit of continuity to the chapters, but by and large it is a collection of brief, stand-alone episodes, rendered in a quirky visual style that channels a blend of The Pink Panther and John Kricfalusi. Review in April 1st 2007 issue of Kirkus
Taking child spoilage to a whole new level, six-year-old King Ethelbert performs some world-class acting out in these 12 graphic-format misadventures. With no parents around to say him nay, Ethelbert takes great delight in watching all of the grownups scrambling to deliver whatever he demands, from an elephant-sized sundae to having all of the children in the kingdom replaced with robot replicas of him. Not only, though, do his notions rarely turn out quite as he planned, but those grownups are smart enough to outmaneuver him at need—and even deliver a few counter-pranks of their own. Though the small pictures and truly tiny typeface will challenge all but the most acute eyes, the retro '60s-style art perfectly conveys the slapstick action and sly tone of this import. Calvin and Hobbes fans will be particularly delighted. Review in October 7th 2007 Publisher's Weekly
What if the country were run by a spoiled brat? No, that is not the first line of a political joke; it is the premise of these twelve graphic stories first published in France between 2001 and 2004. Six-year-old Ethelbert is kind of the tiny country of Portocristo, and he acts just as one would expect a parentless, rich second grader with plentiful servants to act. He is selfish, demanding, easily bored, and often not too bright, but he is also creative. He decrees all game-show prizes should be awarded to him rather than to the rightful winners. He replaces all of the youth in the kingdom with robotic replicas of himself. He demands that a biography be written about him and sets out to do biography-worthy things. He also competes against his annoying cousin Sigismund in a royal car race for a large inheritance, but most important, for the attentions of the fabulously rich Princess Hildagardina. Nothing turns out quite like he expects, but he does not seem to notice (usually thanks to the enabling hard work of Miss Prime Minister).
Right along the lines of this publisher's Sardine series, this book seems ready-made for a television series on Nickelodeon, right next to Fairly Odd Parents or Dexter's Lab. There is a smattering of toilet humor and some of the vocabulary might require dictionaries, but tweens will enjoy the book for the hour that it takes to read it. — Tim Capeheart Review in the September 2007 issue of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
In this illustrated collection of eight translated French stories, King Ethelbert rules as much by whim as by moral or regal standards; this lack of perspective can be excused, though, since hes only six. Ethelbert is living out most kids fantasies: every royal desire, from meeting Santa to winning all contests automatically to receiving sundaes six times larger than himself, is immediately fulfilled. Although the Prime Minister tries to rein in some of his excesses, even she is ultimately powerless when Ethelbert is determined. The stories, each illustrated comic-book-style with panels set against multi-hued backgrounds (a different shade for each entry), are stand-alone episodes in the monarchy of Portocristo, although an ongoing competition between Ethelbert and his much wealthier cousin Sigismund provides continuity, as does Ethelberts absolute disinterest in personal growth or change. The adventures of the tiny king are outrageous and humorous on their own, and the brief stories pair beautifully with Parmes equally exaggerated and amusing illustrations in a style clearly inspired by the 1960s television animation such as ‘The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Parmes giant-headed cartoon king, crown miraculously balanced way back on his head to make room for his impressive pompadour, suggests a character so lively and visually memorable that he could easily be the focus of his own animated short. Young readers will thrill to see their id-inspired impulses all fulfilled through Ethelbert, while older graphic-novel fans will appreciate the subtle political humor played out through the hapless adults who must endure their tyrant king.
In Portocristo, anything six-year-old King Ethelbert says goes, no matter how bizarre or harebrained. He transports himself back in time to meet a dinosaur, swaps his country's kids for Ethelbert robots, tests his bodyguard's mettle by putting a price on his own head, and shrinks the world down to his size.
About the Author
A phenomenally prolific and well-regarded artist and writer, Lewis Trondheim has published more than 35 books in the last ten years. He is one of the leading figures in French comics, and is a co-founder of the alternative publishing house L'Association. Hilarious and caustic, he has a huge international following. Fabrice Parme has illustrated two books by Lewis Trondheim. He has a background in animation, and his drawings have been published in magazines throughout France.