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Book Reviews

The Lost Crown of Meleor

by George Teply

On the planet Meleor, slices of cheesecake, guitars, and balls all grow on plants or trees. The Meleorites who tend them are a gentle, co-operative bunch. So when Quikqueek loses the Princess’s crown in a lemonade well, nobody panics. Quikqueek’s neighbours, Smooth Koof and Bimbin the Hairy, call everyone to help retrieve the crown. But try as they might, they cannot find it. Fortunately, Smooth Koof and Bimbin have recently grown a full-size spaceship in their backyard, and they set off for planet Earth in search of a creature that can swim underwater (make that underlemonade). Instead of a fish, they find Jeff the snorkeller, and bring him back to Meleor. Jeff dives and discovers the creature Well Being, who has been wearing the crown but agrees to give it back to the Princess.

This is a charming, gentle story. Teply’s cartoon-like illustrations are simple, but the colourful creatures he creates are lovable and appealing. The world they inhabit is whimsical and offers a new and humorous perspective on the relationship between the environment and those who nurture and depend on it.

The story’s focus on problem-solving through co-operation is admirable, but it results in a lack of conflict and tension. Even the mischievous creature Well Being, who clearly wants to keep the crown, volunteers to surrender it with no prompting. The text occasionally sparkles, but many comic opportunities are lost, especially in Jeff’s stunningly unperturbed dialogue with the aliens who arrive in a pumpkin-shaped spaceship.