You Review: The Emperor of Absurdia by Chris Riddell

Reviewed by Pauline and Otto de Koning

The title of Chris Riddell’s new picture book, The Emperor of Absurdia, suggests a weird and wonderful plot, and the front cover promises characters that jump off the page with sparkling identity. Otto claims, ‘the dragon looks funny, not scary at all, and the boy really adventurous. I can’t wait to read it’. The Emperor of Absurdia does not disappoint.

The starring role has been reserved for an endearing young boy who dreams a most extraordinary dream in which he looks for, finds and loses his snuggly scarf, but not until his Lunch has hatched and flown away.

Chris Riddell’s drawings are charming and crammed with detail. Otto thinks they ‘are intelligent and add to the story’. The characters are clearly defined by the sure, curly lines and bold colours. Otto most enjoyed ‘going back from the last page to hunt for the things that appear in the little boy’s dream earlier on’.

The text is full of tasty combinations of unusual words and repetitions, like any good picture book, but in a clever way so that repetition comes in reverse after the big climax: a chance meeting with Lunch’s mother! Moreover, it invites lots of expressive reading, by both mother and son. BED is presented as a place where absurd, even a little scary, dreams pop up, but at the same time as a warm and safe haven.

At some point in the book the boy says: ‘This is exciting!’ We agree. This book is fun, beautifully drawn and intelligently written: a classic that can be read over and over again and will continue to delight.

Review by Otto de Koning (8)

I enjoyed this book. It has a lot of funny adjectives in it like jingle-jangle (socks), snugly (scarf) and pointy-sounding (squawk). It is adventurous.

The illustrations have heaps of curls and many blue colours for the dream world. There are many details and there is lots to see in the pictures. There are many funny characters. The best ones are the dragons. It is fun to read the book.

I want to read it over and over. I highly recommend it.