Top of the mornin’ to ya, dear Reader! We’re back this lovely Tuesday with another round of Six Degrees of Kool Books! Last week, DJ introduced us to The Worm Ouroboros, which I had never heard of before, but that doesn’t matter, because that has nothing to do with the way the Six Degrees cookie crumbles! All you have to do to play this game is make a connection from a character in one book to a character in another!
In his post, DJ talked about a character named Lord Gro. He described him thusly, “At first he seems like your typical, dark-hearted wizard, but he is a rather complicated character and his motivations and perspective change considerably after meeting the Lady Mevrian.” Well, my friends, this snippet of character description reminded me of a character referred to in her book simply as, “The Orphankeeper’s Assistant.” She makes her home in the book Tales of the Kingdom by David and Karen Mains. This is a delightful children’s book about a boy called Scarboy who, along with his younger brother Little Child escape from their rather grim existence in Enchanted City – which is ruled by the evil Enchanter, and find a kind, loving home in Great Park, where the King still reigns.
Modern-day fairy tales for kids? Allegory? Fables? Yes to all three, Tales of the Kingdom was one of my favorite books growing up, and it is still one of my favorites. I highly recommend it!
But on to the characters!
Orphankeeper’s Assistant works in the orphanage in Enchanted City and is tasked with finding and bringing back the two runaways. However, when she encounters Mercy, she meets her match, and is undone. She is terrified of returning to Enchanted City, until Mercy offers to take her in, too.
Scarboy is a boy, on the verge of manhood. His mother has died, leaving him and his younger brother as orphans. Before she died, she spoke of Great Park and the King, and Scarboy knows he must get his younger brother away from Enchanted City and its Burners and Breakers before Little Child turns five and is old enough for branding. Branding is supposed to happen on a child’s hand, but at Scarboy’s branding their was an accident, which left him with an ugly scar on his face. He has been the brunt of many cruel taunts because of it, in a city where exterior blemishes are shunned and cause for being cast out. He wants to believe in a king, but struggles to believe in anything he cannot see. When he enters Great Park, he is renamed, Hero, but he has a hard time believing that such a name could possibly apply to him – on the cusp of being an outcast his entire life, ashamed of his scar, with one hand almost permanently glued to his face to hide the blemish.
Little Child is far more accepting of the idea of believing without seeing. Once they arrive in Great Park, Little Child recovers from his breathing difficulties, but does not speak a word… until an entertaining young man takes him out for the day to play a game of, “I See the King.”
Mercy is the elderly woman who takes in all the outcasts who come to Great Park looking for acceptance. She is kind and good, and has a healing way about her. However, Mercy, like everyone living in Great Park, is far more than she seems.
Caretaker is Mercy’s husband. He is a funny old man who at first glance appears to be a somewhat comical gardener. However, he is also the Head Ranger for the King, and far younger and stronger than he first appears. He sends people on quests and helps Hero realize that he cannot walk through life with one hand attached to his face.
Princess Amanda is a young girl about Hero’s age. She is willful, headstrong, and overflowing with the joy of living in Great Park and being the King’s sister. Her joy bubbles over in laughter, so that everyone knows that they will always hear Amanda before they see her. She is the one who shows Scarboy the ropes of living in Great Park and teaches him the most about what true faith looks like.
There are many other characters, The Baker who believes his bread is too good for commoners, until he discovers that by turning away the poor and hungry he has also been turning away his king. The Juggler who hears a different beat in his head and fears that he will shame his troupe, until he learns that the King himself juggles to a different beat, as well! A girl called Dirty who identifies more with pigs than people, until the King looks at her with love and calls her his child.
I realize that these are shorter character descriptions, but it is a shorter book. It’s a powerful one, though. And the illustrations are simply beautiful!
Do any of these characters remind you of characters in another book? Even if you don’t want to play Six Degrees on your own blog, I’d love to hear any connections you might have to these characters!