Mightier Than The Sword Book 1 by Drew Callander and Alana Harrison
Art by Ryan Andrew and YOU!
Published on: July 10, 2018
“You mean you can write in it?!” Those were the first words from my young nephew when I showed him this book. His eyes were wide open as he began to understand how fun this book might just be.
Wildly funny and inventive, this interactive book pulls you, the reader, into the action. Yes, YOU! You wake up in the fictional land of Astorya, where stories from our world come to life. You’re a real human being (we assume), and in this fictional world, that makes you a superhero. Armed with your trusty pencil, you have the power to create: what you write, draw, or scribble in the book becomes part of the story! Only you can rescue Prince S. from the evil Queen Rulette. Aided by the Couriers–a French stoat with dangerous dance moves, a giant dung beetle, a fire ninja, a Pegasus-centaur-cowgirl and a super-intelligent femalien chameleon–you must write, draw, and puzzle your way through a hilarious adventure and prove that the pencil is mightier than the sword.
While my nephew was taken by the fact that a book existed where you were encouraged to write in it, I was taken by the fact that this book is written in 2nd person point of view. While I can name a few books that are written in this POV, it still is a fairly rare style to run across. However, for this book it makes perfect sense. At the beginning YOU have amnesia and all you know is that you have a letter than reads itself aloud to you telling you that ‘you’ need to rescue Prince S. (not princess, a clarification that the book wants to make sure you understand) You also have a pencil. Why do you only have a pencil? Good question, but what you do learn a bit later in the story is that you have the ability to make what you write turn into reality. It’s like a superpower. What this does – between the 2nd person POV and the pencil – is immediately draw the reader directly into the story as the story makes ‘you’ an active participant.
So, you set about this rescue adventure never knowing your name. First, you are guided to Manteau who knows where to find Prince S. and knows how to get there. But getting where you need to be in order to rescue Prince S. isn’t always easy. There are dust bunnies and rubots and bandits to avoid as well as places where your new friends can’t go because the place been erased. But along the way are also a lot of book activities you get to enjoy that help the story move forward, such as a 6-page maze, fill-in-the-blank descriptions, and drawings of evil villains and less evil villains that Penguin wants you to send to them. (Yes! They even give you Penguin’s address to send these drawings of Scarier Villains and Less Scary Villains to.)
But in addition to actions you take as part of the story, the story is actively happening to you too such as where you enter a round room and you find the words on the page you are now reading are in a circle. Or, a pine tree picks you up and dangles you upside down and now you have to turn the book upside down to read what the next page says. Or, you want to watch three ninja battles all at once so that book makes that happen by giving you a page with 3 separate columns each with it’s own story.
I asked my nephew to read two chapters. He ended up reading five. We were at a baseball game so I was surprised I got that many. But after the first chapter he looked at me and said “I think I’m going to like this book.” Besides the fact that you can write in it, I believe he also enjoyed all the fun footnotes and word plays going on, which this book is chock full of. Toward the end of the book is a flip book animation scene at the edge of 40-50 pages, which I pointed out to him. He thought that was really cool too and showed it off to another kid sitting near us.
Overall, I think kids will really enjoy this book. As an adult and non-target audience, I definitely enjoyed the cleverness and ingenuity of it, but because of the 2nd person POV and because I wasn’t actively participating in the Fill-in-the-Blank type pages or drawings (saving it for the nephew), I found it wasn’t a book I could read straight through like other middle grade books. I found it was best if I took breaks in between scenes. It is still a terrific book for a kid to have though.
Rating: 5 stars
Thanks to the author and Penguin Workshop for a copy of the book and the opportunity to provide an honest review.