Michelle Isenhoff

Sir Nathan and the Quest for Queen Gobbledeegook, by Mark Simon Smith, 2012, Book Review

MMGM is a weekly meme hosted by middle grade author, Shannon Messenger
My sons both enjoyed this book. The humor is droll, the plot straightforward, and the details random enough to engage young readers. Consider Jubb Jubb Trees that fall into piles of lumber with a precise kick, Hootentoot leaves that scream with fright when they fall, blue squirrels, a sun that rises and sets in the east because of an old grudge with the west, landscapes of polka dots and bright primary colors, lots of magic, and a hero who isn’t all that bright but who is valiant, likable, and bursting with personality. That’s what you get with Sir Nathan.
I, however, don’t rank this one as highly as my sons. I found the detail (which my kids loved) tedious and the plot slow and predictable. There was also a good deal of redundancy and wordiness, and the whole thing needed a few sessions with an editor. Twenty percent of the book could be wiped out with the first markup. But it’s clean, the author has a sense of humor, and it is fun for the audience for whom it is intended.
Consider the following quote:
Surprisingly, Sir Nathan was usually able to finish all of his quests just by shouting knightly stuff. Tupolev (the horse) was amazed at how many bad guys would just give up at the first sign of someone with a huge sword screaming about smiting and smashing and stabbing. There was even one time when Sir Nathan defeated an entire army of goblin pirates with just one single growl.
Of course, Tupolev knew the growl was really just a loud burp from a late breakfast. But, still, it had worked.
What kid won’t laugh at that and read on for more? The tagline (“A Somewhat Silly Story”) is pretty accurate. And I have to admit, Sir Nathan and his trusty steed do have consistent, engaging personalities. It just isn’t the same quality as something picked up from the bookstore. So I won’t give Sir Nathan a high recommendation, but I have no objections if it will get kids like my reluctant readers reading. I have little enough invested in them. Sir Nathan is just .99 on Amazon, and so is the sequel. For ages 7-11.

Sir Nathan and the Quest for Queen Gobbledeegook, by Mark Simon Smith, 2012, Book Review

4 thoughts on “Sir Nathan and the Quest for Queen Gobbledeegook, by Mark Simon Smith, 2012, Book Review

  1. Michelle, thanks for taking the time to review Sir Nathan and the Quest for Queen Gobbledeegook. I feel your review is quite fair, considering all the things I’ve learned as I head into writing book 4 in my Somewhat Silly Story series. Perhaps the curse of the self-published author is the difficult in trying to achieve something grand and wondrous within limited time and budget. This first book was originally written on a whim for young nieces and nephews more than 10 years ago and only recently did I pull it out, dust it off and set out to self-publish it and it’s always been a thought in the back of my head to go back and improve upon things. Thanks!

  2. Mark, you’ve nailed the indie challenge. And it is a learning curve, isn’t it? My current improvements include replacing my do-it-yourself covers with professional ones as finances allow. It takes a long time for MG books to pay for themselves.
    Wish you all the best with book 4. I’m sure I’ll be purchasing 3 for my boys. They loved the first two and take Erik’s opinions very seriously. And thanks so much for writing CLEAN stories. I don’t worry at all about what content they might encounter in the pages…er, on the screen. 🙂

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