Prince Prickly Spine

7 December 2023

Prince Prickly Spine
by Tekeyla Friday, Illustrated by James Warwood
Published by Tekeyla Friday Studios Publishing
Review by Shelley A. Leedahl
$11.99 ISBN 9781777241841

How in the world did she come up with this?

That was my initial reaction to the multi-talented Tekeyla Friday’s enchanting chapter book, Prince Prickly Spine. Its royalty, dragon, castles and jousting make it medieval. The futuristic “Pizza Pads” (for playing music) and Pizza Palms (like cellphones, they’re used for calls and texting, but also feature a “pepperoni-flavoured keypad” and are pizza-shaped) give it a sci-fi touch. And the fact that the story’s protagonist is a kid who’d rather be playing video games than keeping his room tidy, exercising or “paying attention to [his] tutor” gives it a very “contemporary kid” feel. And I haven’t even mentioned the prince’s fairy godfather, Joe Troll, who frequently screws up wishes, but then “Nowadays in Medievaldom, anyone could apply to be a fairy godparent, as long as they had a pixie spark”. The Swift Current author delivers a strong dose of humour, and that works in every genre.

Friday, who is also a stop motion animation and claymation artist, clearly has a wonderful imagination and knows just what juvenile readers appreciate in a book: an irreverent child; a dangerous rescue-the-princess-from-the-dragon mission; and lots of physical comedy, thanks here to a clumsy young prince. Twelve-year-old Prince Evert doesn’t behave like a real prince in any way, shape or form. When his mother enters his messy, foul-smelling room and confiscates his electronics, the prince says fine, he’ll “go outside and walk around the moat,” but that doesn’t cut it with the queen. She sends her lazy, stinking son—he’s not bathed in a month—on a quest: he must journey to “the Shadow Dragon’s Cave and rescue Princess Amelia”. Prince Evert says: “Are you batty, woman?” And even worse luck: he’s not allowed to take his Pizza Palm, so will be relying on an old-fashioned parchment map: “It looked sort of like a caveman’s drawing of a GPS.”

The prince’s humiliating attire for his adventure demonstrates Friday’s fine use of similes: “The sock smelled rancid, like dead, salted fish that had gone rotten”.

The writing is witty, the characters delightful, and the book is illustrated in comical drawings by James Warwood, from Wales. I laughed when I saw the image for the “WANTED ALIVE NOT DEAD” poster, which included this: “Note: She’s too young to marry.” That’s just fine with Prince Evert, who only “wanted to play video games and chat on Medievaldom social media and play MeTube videos,” plus “hang out” with his bestie, Prince Roman Porter.

Other characters include the protagonist’s brother, Don, who calls Evert the “Sloth Prince” and tells Evert that after the Shadow Dragon eats the prince’s feet, he’ll “have to wear wooden ones,” and Tilly, the teasing maid. After the prince loses his horse he connects with his comical fairy godfather, the bulbous-nosed Joe Troll, and the boy hopes for a magical fix to his situation. Unfortunately, the bumbling troll has made another mistake. Will someone be “dragon food by sundown”?

This book is a royal romp. Enjoyed it!


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