King Coo, which is penned and illustrated by Adam Stower with great comedic flare, is one of the Best of 2017 for one simple reason, my son read this book, and then re-read, and re-read , and read it over and over, and over again. It tells the tale of Ben Pole or ‘Bean’ who spend his life slinking and skulking about trying to avoid the school’s meanest boy, Monty Grabbe and his motley crew of thugs, when he falls (literally down a tunnel) to a unknown forest and meets the formidable and feisty King Coo.
Spear wielding and passing an uncanny resemblance to The Adam’s Family’s Cousin It, the crown wearing beard adorned royal, is in fact not a boy but a GIRL.
‘I’ve never seen a boy with a BEARD before!’
‘How DARE you!’ replied King Coo indignantly. ‘I am a GIRL with a beard!’
With only, Herb, a tunnel obsessed wombat for company King Coo rules the forest, building tree-houses and swinging through the canopy. Ben and King Coo, become instant friends but the harmony is soon disturbed by the presence of Monty and his followers. Together Ben and King Coo defeat the intruders with an array of tricks and 'Heath Robinson' style traps. But Monty is not one to take defeat lightly and hatches a plan to get revenge on Ben and King Coo, plus ensnare Herb the wombat with the assistance of shady Ded Leigh, followed by the most dastardly of all - bulldozing the forest.
But the self-proclaimed ‘Bearded Girl Genius’ King Coo, isn’t about to let anything happen to her pet wombat, or secret forest, so together her and Ben hatch their most ingenious plan and build their craziest invention to give Monty a taste of his own medicine.
King Coo is an excellent read for young readers, or to be read as a family, and is a enhanced by it beautiful and vibrant illustrations, putting it in the leagues of Chris Riddles’ s ‘Goth Girl’ books, or his and Neil Gaiman’s ‘Fortunately the milk’, but with a tad more eccentricity which would appeal to the readers of the Sarah MacIntyre and Philip Reeve books or fans of the’ 13 Storey Treehouse’.
King Coo is a light-hearted and funny story told together with the pictures. Every image and page designed to work together, with cheeky and charming characters and barmy inventions, all visualised in a fun and entertaining way. In fact the illustrations are so integral to the story telling that at one point it switches from text to graphic novel format.
It is no coincidence that King Coo a book which dares to transition from text to comic book format and back again is published by David Fickling Books who brought us The Phoenix Magazine, as they really are pioneers of the pushing the boundaries of children literature and with Adam Stowers’s King Coo they’ve struck gold.