Fairy Knights: The King of Kanterberry Book Review
This is a book review of Fairy Knights: The King of Kanterberry by Dames Handsome.
The Princess won’t laugh, Evil Fairies have been spotted, and the Leprechauns are in an awful mess. Who can fix it all while making you giggle besides? The Fairy Knights can! Channelers of a special caliber, Ching Goo and Oma Bell are well ready to use their magic and level-ups to do the world good in this GameLit adventure made especially for children.
One of my favorite parts about watching my kids grow up is getting to share my job with them. My daughter and I have found so much joy working together to review and share books with kids. That’s why this book, Fairy Knights 2 – The King of Kanterberry by Dames Handsome, is so special to me. The author wrote this novel for young readers based on a story his son created! The two worked together to bring it to life, along with a close friend who created the illustrations. A true team effort!
The sequel to the original novel, Fairy Knights – the Beginning, this second story picks up where the last left off. The heroes, Ching Goo and Oma Bell, are facing a new threat from the Boglins. Even more disastrous, the princess has been cursed, and may never be able to laugh again. It’s a tough job for the Fairy Knights, but they’re up to the challenge. There will be magic, and shape shifting, and maybe even a water monster, but they can do it together!
The novel is a great introduction to chapter books! It’s an easy read, sprinkled with fantastic line drawings of the characters to spark the imagination of your kiddos. The characters are zany, and range from leprechauns to hamsters. There’s even a talking bed! The author creates an intricate world that kids will quickly relate to, and you’ll enjoy sharing together.
Though it’s definitely a fantasy story, there are important values embedded in the pages. One of my favorite parts of the book comes in the prologue, when Ching Goo explains an important lesson: “You aren’t good at stuff just because you want to be. You get good at stuff because you work hard and work together.” What a great reminder for kids and grownups alike.
Where Can I Find "Fairy Knights: The King of Kanterberry"?
About the Author, Dames Handsome
“My nickname is Dames, and I am handsome. Or so my students often tell me. I am a teacher and have been for two decades. I teach students K – 12 and I love to make stories for the younger ones. My friend Warwick is a Children’s Education Professor who loves to draw and make songs for children, so we decided to combine forces and see if we couldn’t make something for kids the world over. I hope you enjoy!”
Rapid Fire with Dames Handsome
Q. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Dames: I’ve been writing my entire life. I even wrote in my little military notebook when I used to go out to the field. But becoming an actual writer and publishing in the big wide world is something that I kind of fell into after I wrote a book for my Dungeons and Dragons players putting the exploits of their characters into a prose story format.
Q. What was the most surprising thing you learned about creating books?
Dames: That no matter how well you outline your story, it won’t be what you planned for it to be. Your characters take on real life and a bit of their own sentience when you pen them out, and you suddenly realize that they would react to situations quite differently than how you planned them to. When Ching Goo fails his quest, and things turn bad, he reacted in a way that wasn’t planned for, and that pivot from my original plan made the story real.
Q. What do you think makes a good story?
Dames: Brilliant characters and a riveting world. The plot is there to steer the story and is important, but books transport us to other places, and if the world and people that we are watching aren’t that fun, I’m out.
Q. What do you love most about the writing process?
Dames: Learning what the plot is going to be. I was a Gamemaster for a lot of years, and I have made hundreds of worlds and thousands of quests, but that was also so I can enjoy seeing what the players did with it and where the story would go. I’ve found that in writing, the experience and joy are the same. In both cases, I know where I’d like them to go, but players and characters have a tendency to buck your expectations and forge their own story.
Q. How did you become involved in the subject or theme of your book?
Dames: I played a game with my son and my wife. I made a story, and they made fairy characters — Ching Goo (a word meaning ‘friend’ in Korean) and Oma Bell (Oma is a word meaning ‘mother’ in Korean), then we played and the way the two played off of each other was magical. Oma was the responsible one, trying to keep Ching on the right path while Ching was the headstrong and goofy unpredictable one, always forging his own path. It led to trouble, as you might imagine, and it lead to unforgettably glorious scenes that I knew I had to immortalize into text.
Q. What inspires you as a writer?
Dames: My son and my wife. I almost never published anything. My son had a stroke and almost died, and spent months living at the hospital undergoing brain surgeries. I dropped that very first book I had been writing and went to living life day by day. But when he finally came home and while he recovered, something emerged inside me.
I was determined to put all of the pain and hardship behind by not letting ‘the badness’ win. And I started that path by finishing my first book and publishing it. I felt that if I didn’t, I’d forever remember all of the horror of the experience. And it worked in ways I didn’t expect.
My son was proud, my wife was proud, my students were proud, and I pushed on with writing. Now my son is writing his own novel, and it is my turn to be proud. I am inspired by the change that writing has bestowed upon others, like my middle-school student who said she now wanted to be a writer.
I am inspired by the happiness, joy, and overall positive influence that I hope my works can bring to other people’s lives.
Q. Can you tell us about one of the most rewarding moments you have had as an author?
Dames: A father contacted me and told me that he had finished reading Fairy Knights to his 5-year-old daughter, and now she was spending her days talking about how she was going to do good things for people so she could level up and be a powerful hero. Hearing that made me so incredibly happy.
Q. Are you working on anything at the present that you would like to share with your readers about?
Dames: I was contacted by an in-country publisher here in Korea, so I’ll be publishing a separate Korean version of the books this year. I am always working on something at present, and I would love to gush about current projects, but honestly, right now, I’d love to shift the limelight to my son if I could.
His book is named Nightmare Spider Apocalypse and it is probably a month and a half from being finished. It is a silly and funny kids action novel that very much showcases his creative and comedic mind. I wish I had the imagination my little guy has and I hope he outsells me. He said he wants to sell so many copies that he can buy the best gaming computer in the world!
Q. What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
Dames: Each of the Fairy Knights books has a life lesson, and I hope that the kids that read or listen to their parents read this book pick them up and keep them throughout their lives.
I hope that kids realize that being good at something requires patience and hard work, that jealousy is natural but should be thought through and talked through with your friends, that they should make a plan when preparing to do something big and complicated and that, always, it is better to work together than to try to tackle the same task individually. I am a teacher, and it is in my blood to hope that my kid readers learn something.
Q. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Dames: I do! And I welcome the feedback. The Fairy Knights books have received phenomenal praise here in Korea, and people tell me stories about how their children have reacted to them. It is always so cute and powerful. It is addictive, to be honest, and even though my outline says I will only write twelve, I, like my characters and players, might forge ahead and make my own path and shoot for twenty or even more.
I will write until I don’t hear from my readers, I suspect. Because, while I enjoy writing the stories, they are the ones who validate my hobby and make all of that typing ultimately worthwhile. Plus the stories are always super cute!
About the Illustrator, Warwick Wilson
Q. What process takes place in creating your artwork?
Warwick: That’s a tough question. This is only a half answer or less, but in the end (and here I mean when you look at all the illustrations together) I want to have diversity. Different angles and different emphasis. Close ups or wide shots, that kind of thing.
However, I have to weigh those choices against how long it takes to draw these things. I’m not as good as I’d like to be, so more complex drawings take more time and sometimes I just don’t have the time. So, the brutal truth is that here and there a drawing or two aren’t as good as I want them to be.
Q. Can you describe the artistic process behind your illustration creations?
Warwick: Not really. Each one is an adventure where I don’t know how it will come out. I get an idea from the text and I try to imagine how it will look on a page. The difficult part is getting everything to fit into the dimensions you’re presented with. But now I’m having another thought…it has to be expressive.
You can have an amazing design and lack expressiveness, so the whole thing looks dead. So I find myself drawing something that is “almost done” and then I see the little issues about the mouth or eyes that don’t convey emotion. I often have to go back and redo those things with quicker strokes or less thought. There’s a lot of rethinking and erasing to capture feeling. And getting the balance of line width can be a nightmare for me.
Q. Are there any illustrators that have inspired the way you approach your illustrative work?
Warwick: I grew up on superhero comics and the names that jump out immediately are Joe Madureira and Ian Churchill. But I suck at looking up artist names. Joe Mad, though, defined a generation.
Q. Which page was the most fun to illustrate?
Warwick: Hmmm…I didn’t think I had an answer for this one, but I had a look through with my wife and I think the one with the granny looking down at the heroes and scolding them. It just captures the moment well and I like the angle. Getting granny to look the same across drawings was a challenge.
Q. Since creating artwork is your job, what kind of hobbies do you enjoy to relieve stress and help inspire your artwork?
Warwick: I’m a little too obsessive. Right now, at this very minute, I’m watching the Snyder cut of Justice League, but for the last three days I’ve been editing together pictures or poses I like from comics or reference sheets.
It’s not reaaaallly a hobby, and I know I’m probably wasting my time, but I sit for hours stitching together a bunch of pictures onto one page so that I don’t have 1500 separate pictures to scroll through. Now I only have 1200 pictures to scroll through and I will be editing more once I’m done with Justice League. I think I’m obsessed with saving space, and I hate it.
Q. Are you working on something new and exciting for us to look forward to?
Warwick: When I can pull myself away from the picture editing and my actual job, I am trying to record demos of songs that have been in my head for years. I suck at recording, though. Whoops.
Q. Did you draw as a child?
Warwick: I drew all the time as a kid, but adulthood got in the way.
Q. What were your favorite books growing up?
Warwick: As a young boy I read a lot of Hardy Boys, but I would say that I most enjoyed Dragonlance as a teenager, or the Vampire Chronicles.
Q. Where can we find you online?
Warwick: I post sometimes on my Instagram account – robowawa14 – or on YouTube, where my channel is Robowawa’s Children’s Songs, or something. Honestly, it’s my wife who takes care of that.
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All in all, my family and I have really enjoyed this book and we know you will too! Please feel free to leave me any comments or questions about this review. I look forward to hearing from you!
* This book was kindly sent to me by Author, Dames Handsome in exchange for an honest review.