Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite the tangy illustrations and the promising pairing of Egielski (Buz; Hey, Al) and Wise (Ten Sly Piranhas), this entry, about "a greedy king who loved to eat pancakes," feels underbaked. King Felix's ardor for pancakes is apparently equaled only by his impossibly high standards: the pancakes are always too dry, too buttery, too syrupy, etc. He offers his daughter in marriage to whoever can make a stack of perfect pancakes. An evil magician does so, but when the princess objects to marrying him, the king reneges on his promise and then finds himself literally up to his eyeballs in pancakes. The plot lurches toward an unimaginative and contrived ending, while none of the characters proves particularly likable or compelling, including the young man "so handsome and charming, [the princess] fell in love with him on the spot." Egielski's delightfully wicked and corpulent characters blend a range of fairy tale traditions, from the wimpled queen to the turbaned king to the vaguely Slavic princess. Alas, they're all dressed up but the story leaves them nowhere to go. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Really, the King has gone too far this time. His love of pancakes has made him irrational. He has offered the hand of his daughter in marriage to the man who can create a perfect stack of pancakes. Princess Elizabeth is angry and upset, but her mother's advice is to relax because no one can make a perfect stack of pancakes, well, no one except Maximilian the Evil Inventor, who must be dead by now. Enter Max, who does indeed make perfect pancakes, but all is not lost. The ending is no surprise, but the illustrations filled with humor are great. They transport readers into a mythical kingdom and feature a greedy fat king, a grotesque Max and a wonderfully strong willed princess who finally gets what she wants.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-An original folktale that's an interesting mix of the old and the new. Old is the plot device of the king promising his daughter to the man who can accomplish a particular task (in this case, the one who can make a stack of perfect pancakes); and new is how some of the characters react to this situation, especially the princess herself, who has her own ideas about who she'll marry. There's also a handsome young scientist, Roderick, and a great villain, "Maximilian, the Evil Inventor," with a "long white beard, mean yellowish eyes, and a nose that twitched with mischief." By combining elements from "The Magic Porridge Pot" with "Rumpelstiltskin," Wise has created a lively and absorbing story. The straightforward text makes a great foil for Egielski's humorous watercolors. The pictures mix medieval elements with touches of the Orient. King Felix himself resembles a very large and very self-absorbed sultan. In fact, characterizations, especially facial expressions, are where Egielski excels. If there can be such a thing as understated exaggeration, he's done it perfectly. His sly comic tone is priceless. Words and pictures combine to make this a great read-aloud or read-alone.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
A bejeweled caricature of a king, perfectly rotund and greedy, offers his daughter's hand in marriage to the suitor who can produce a stack of perfect pancakes.
This parody of the way in which princess brides gain their spouses is full of familiar patterns and plotting, complete with a handsome young beau, Roderick, and an evil inventor, Maximilian. While poking fun at the fairy-tale genre, Wise (Ten Sly Piranhas, 1993, etc.) tells a laugh-aloud story about a king's breaking his promise to Maximilian, whose little black box spits out perfect pancakes. He promptly curses the kingdom, and not since Homer Price's doughnut machine has a wacky invention gone so splendidly haywirea plethora of pancakes is the result. Egielski masterfully stretches the humor of the story, peopling the pages with pop-eyed Roy Gerrardlike characters engaged in convincingly ridiculous comedy just this side of wild. The Evil Inventor is a perfect Rumpelstiltskin figure, down to his skeleton cufflinks. Neither author nor illustrator neglects the happily-ever-after ending, in which Maximilian is shipped off to the moon, the king temporarily realizes his folly, and the princess gets her man.