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Kerry and the Knight of the Forest: 09/03/20

Kerry and the Knight of the Forest

Kerry and the Knight of the Forest by Andi Watson is a British middle grade graphic novel fantasy about a boy trying to get home with medicine for his ill parents. Like many British fantasies, the misadventures stem from straying off the path. In this case, he's led astray by the creatures who live in the forest.

The best part of this book are the illustrations. They're colorful and geometric. There's a retro feel to them. Collectively they do most of the heavy lifting for the narrative. Frankly the novel would have been better without any text.

The main detractor from this novel is Kerry himself. He oozes white male privilege. Even when he's apparently doing good for others, it's performative. Yes, he's motivated by the need to get medicine to his parents but that doesn't excuse his obnoxious, entitled behavior.

Kerry yelling to the forest from on top of a giant snail

Kerry's journey home, also sits on the Road Narrative Spectrum. As a British book, it's an outlier. It's ending demonstrates why I'm not including most British road stories into my project. More on that at the end of this post.

Kerry through his attitude and his insistence that everyone in the forest must help him even with the threat of greater dangers out there, demonstrates that despite his age, is a privileged traveler (00). His destination is home (66) to bring his parents medicine he went to get from a neighboring village. His route is the maze (CC), represented by the magically changeable forest and the creatures / spirits who are trying to keep him trapped there. Thus Kerry and the Knight of the Forest can be summarized as the tale of a privileged traveler heading home via the maze (0066CC).

In my essay Seven Narrative Ways to Travel (February 27, 2017), I discuss the quintessential British road narrative. How their stories differ from new world ones is in the importance of returning home at the end. The road is a means to a holiday. There is no expectation that the trip be one way, whereas in North American literature, it often is. The return trip is a rarer event.

Kerry complaining that he should be home by now.

Kerry's stated desire is to get home with the medicine. His successful return home, even with the children he rescued from the forest, would have been the expected ending in a North American graphic novel. However, this being a British novel, there's a coda showing Kerry and the children returning to the new recovered forest to show the Knight that they are well and happy. In this regard, the children, while they have a new home, are given the chance to symbolically return home. Thus Kerry and the children have the ability to go "there and back again."

Three stars

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