The King of Space by Jonny Duddle

The King of Space; Jonny Duddle (Templar Books, 2013)

The King of Space: Jonny Duddle (Templar Books, 2013)

Some books are worth every ounce of anticipation, and are even better than you expect them to be. The King of Space is one of these books. Having utterly loved both The Pirate Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door, it was almost a given that we’d love The King of Space but there was some trepidation as I opened the book to read…

As soon as the book opens to the first end paper, there is a treat awaiting you: the contents of Rex’s desk with blaster, blue-prints, planner book and wonderfully retro calculator showing 531608 (for those of us who grew up with trying to make rude words on calculators, this is a treat!) I read the book to myself first, loving all the little sci-fi in jokes and ‘graphic novel’ feel plus slight surrealness of the plot.

Then I paused. I loved this book, but would my daughters understand it? I paused a while before reading it to them. Several days of pausing… But of course, I read The King of Space as an adult and got all the things that were aimed at me, and all the little details in the backgrounds. As I read it to MG and DG, they got all the things that were aimed at them, and different little details in the backgrounds! “Again!” DG shouted as soon as I’d finished. “Yes, Mummy, can we have it again?” added MG. It’s been regularly requested ever since 🙂

I have always been a nerd, a geek, a lover of sci-fi. This book was always going to appeal to me. But it is also another little packet of perfect awesomeness from the incredibly talented Mr Duddle and has all the silliness (and comfort) required for small children with all sorts of interests.

The plot follows Rex, a small boy who lives with his parents on a Moog farm (cows with space helmets!) and has Big Plans. Somehow this time all his plans work out and before he knows it, he’s wiped out all resistance in the Western Spiral with his warbots (dung blaster attachments essential) and caught the attention of the Galactic Alliance. What’s a boy to do, other than kidnap the Emperor’s daughter and bribe her with choco-goo? Soon things get Serious, and Rex realises he doesn’t want to play anymore. Fortunately there’s someone who can always save the day: Mum.

I’m usually a fan of traditional artists, as I find a lot of digital art too ‘shiny’ (for want of a better word!) but in all three of his books Jonny Duddle has packed the pages with grime and details. I’ve read them so many times and still have the odd “oh!” moment when I notice yet-another connection between the stories in the background (the climbing frame in Pirates Next Door and King of Space; the ship in Pirate Cruncher and Pirates Next Door; the Cruncher popping up everywhere…)

I personally find The King of Space hard to read aloud because it’s like a comic, with lots of speech bubbles and lots to look at. But my girls forgive my uselessness and help along by pointing out everything I miss! This is a beautiful, huggable book and one I’d put on every bookshelf. I’ve given several copies of The Pirate Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door as birthday presents to friends’ children, and I’ll be doing the same with The King of Space.

Too good to miss, grab a copy as soon as you can.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The King of Space by Templar Publishing for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

2 responses to “The King of Space by Jonny Duddle

  1. Great to hear such a positive reaction – especially as it didn’t go down like this with my girls – they lost interest just over half way through 🙁 We read it in a bookshop, so I haven’t had a chance to try it again, but at the time it felt quite laboured (and yet we really enjoyed the Pirates Next door)…

  2. We loved this too, and had no problems with reading aloud despite the format. My two particularly like clapping loudly to get party bags at Rex’s coronation! I think it could be seen as quite a “grown-up” picture book and so great for slightly older children who can read a bit and might think of picture books as (or be told that they are…) babyish.
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