Joshua’s Bookshelf!: Nine Words Max, by Dan Bar-el

[This review is based on the ARC (Advance Reader Copy) digital edition published by the Tundra Books division of Random House of Canada Limited in 2014.]

So what’s it about?
Prince Maximilian is a very eloquent young boy; he loves to ask questions and offer long, thoughtful, rambling answers. His older brothers, Kurt, Wilt, and Tripp, are much simpler and can’t stand that Max talks so much. One day, the King and Queen go on vacation, leaving the boys in charge of the kingdom. The three older brothers order a wizard to put a spell on Max that allows him to only speak nine words at a time (hence, Nine Words Max). While the brothers enjoy Max’s inability to finish a sentence at first, it eventually becomes a problem when a foreign queen pays a visit and Max, the only brother with an understanding of how to treat the queen, cannot provide proper directions to the servants and subjects regarding how to behave. For fear of offending the queen and starting a war, no one does anything; the queen is extremely offended by their inaction and threatens to start a war. It’s up to Kurt, Wilt, and Tripp to have the spell reversed and Max returned to normal — but will they?

What did we think of the book?
The title itself, Nine Words Max, is a very clever play on words, and the story is great fun and very funny. The artwork portrayed the stereotyped princes very well: Maximilian is a short, glasses-wearing nerd while his brothers are taller, sometimes heavy-set simpletons. The foreign queen, Queen Spark, frankly looked a bit terrifying, as she probably should. As for the story, while Max’s eloquence went a bit over Joshua’s head, he enjoyed having the story read to him using different voices, and he loved counting out all of Max’s nine-word unfinished phrases. We both loved how the story ended (no spoilers!) and clapped when it was over.

Would we add it to Joshua’s bookshelf?
Sure! I don’t expect Joshua to truly comprehend the story just yet — he’s too young — but he did find a great deal of enjoyment in it. That’s enough reason for me to hold on to it!