While on a quest to be a mediocre king in a parallel universe, an underachieving preteen discovers that there’s more to life than being average.
Eleven-year-old James lives in a dismal single parent environ with his belligerent mother. An average student with no friends, James spends much of his class time doodling an imaginary world filled with rolling hills and a road disappearing into the horizon. In a strange turn of events, James’ doodling becomes a reality not only when he enters an alternate world called The Realm of Possibility, but also goes on a quest to find the former king and discover why he left. Intended as a test for him to become the new king, James is unaware that the mission will turn into a life-changing journey.
Schwartz spins a clever tale that challenges youth to be true to themselves in his debut novel. Replete with all things average, Schwartz’ third person narrative reflects a world with limited aspirations. Featuring an unwanted preteen from a broken home, Schwartz takes a heavy familial issue and transforms it into an adventure story with thought-provoking concepts. While not all young readers will relate to James’ feelings of parental rejection, they will certainly understand the pretense used by youth to gain societal acceptance.
Key to Schwartz’ transformable approach is a surreal surrounding that combines interesting characters with comedic scenes and engaging dialogue—a perfect cushion used to set the stage for James. He is placed in uncomfortable situations that require him to face his fears. Character examples include a talking “scape” goat named Mayor Culpa, an optimist named Roget and his pessimistic sidekick Kiljoy—to name a few. Also key is how Schwartz punctuates his mediocre-laced text with delightful pencil drawings from illustrator Nicole Armitage. Consistently fluid from beginning to end, Schwartz’ storyline includes plenty of unexpected scene changes with cliffhanging chapter closures.
KING OF AVERAGE is a unique fantasy with a powerfully encouraging message for youth.