“I want to poop blue poop,” is one of the last lines of dialog in Tiny Tyrant Volume One: The Ethelbertosaurus. It sums up my overall feeling of Volume One, something familiar, but slightly different.
King Ethelbert is the pint sized titular Tiny Tyrant, the six year old ruler of Portocristo. Think Richie Rich meets Napoleon, only without Richie’s maturity level.
While reading Tiny Tyrant I was struck with three distinct feelings: delightfulness, a sense that I had seen it all before and a strong desire to bend Ethelbert over my knee and spank him. Something one character does get away with in one story.
Volume One collects six different stories about the little boy king you will come to hate – and rightfully so: The Ethelbertosaurus; Safety First; The Great Love Race; The Magic of Christmas; Books are our Friends and Picture-perfect Children.
Each story is better then the one before it. As you read along you are also introduced to a larger cast of characters including Miss Prime Minister, his richer cousin King Sigismund, The Cook, The Tutor and her daughter, and another character whose role I am not sure of.
The most pleasing thing about this is the dialog. The writing is snappy and smart, with quick quips and intelligence. Ethelbert acts like a six-year old, rants like a six-year old, but never quiet speaks like a six-year old.
The characterization and stories is where things lack. Ethelbert is the only real fleshed out character, while he seems to be one-dimensional, he does have some depth. In one story he even admits – to himself – that he may have made a mistake. Most of the other characters are stock characters. One-dimensional characters often seen in these type of stories who are there to simply appease the main character, do what they say and what for it to fail.
The Great Love Race is my favorite story of the six stories presented in the book, and while the stories do progressively get better, they left me wanting. They are very familiar to anyone who has read children stories. I know how, and why, they were going to end before getting there. They are not badly written, just typical.
Of course this is coming from an adult point-of-view. The target children audience may not be as familiar with this type of material as I am.
The art itself is excellent and fully suited and added to the overall feel. And no point did it distract me, or was there anything that brought my attention away from the story. It did what good art, of any style, should do: tell the story and enhance the feel for the reader.
Overall, Tiny Tyrant Volume One: The Ethelbertosaurus is a fun, entertaining read, but nothing spectacular. For adults, the appeal my be nostalgic. For it’s target audience of children Tiny Tyrant will definitely hit the spot.
Even with the lack of characterization, typical – but not badly written – stories, Tiny Tyrant is a step above most of the children’s fair on the shelves today. Though the main character is a six-year old, the materials is not written to the mentally of a six-year old. In other words, it isn‘t written down to them, but is written in a way that speaks to six-year olds on a more mature level – even if the main characters lacks that maturity.