“The Word Dancer” by Maxine Rose Schur

“The Word Dancer” by Maxine Rose Schur 175 262 Reader Views Kids

The Word Dancer

Maxine Rose Schur
Snowy Wings Publishing (2023)
ISBN: 978-1958051030
Reviewed by Grady Darrell, age 10, for Reader Views (06/2023)

“The Word Dancer” by Maxine Rose Schur, is a book in which Wynnfrith, 5-year-old Prince Oliver, and the mysterious and kind Mistress Plummety Peache embark on a journey to save the kingdom of Wisland from the vexing Ugsome family. Wynnfrith must defend Oliver as she, Mistress Peache, and Oliver search for his father, Goodliwink, the rightful king of Wisland. The Word Dancer, a man with both extraordinary dancing skills and great knowledge, is there through it all, speaking only a single word per appearance, a word that holds the power to determine the outcome of the events that are underway. The wisdom of the Word Dancer is admirable, but sometimes one word isn’t enough.

Maxine Rose Schur has written an entertaining book in a creative style that deviates from the typical king-gets-overthrown plot. For example, Schur writes:

After the buffoons and jugglers, the King announced the finest of all amusements: The Word Dancer. Yes, the Word Dancer was to appear, and that night something would happen that would forever change the lives of not only Wynnfrith, but of everyone in the kingdom.

All foretold by a single word.”

That sample shows a unique way of writing, with words and grammar like “buffoons,” “foretold,” and “was to appear” that really makes me feel like I’m in a medieval time. The introduction of the Word Dancer also helps to add originality to the plot. Oftentimes in medieval books, there’s too much clashing and not enough thinking, but the Word Dancer changes that, using his masterful wordplay to take the “s” from swords, leaving him with something far more powerful.

Some of the aspects of the book that I loved include Mistress Plummety Peache’s way with herbs. I enjoyed the mystery behind her—are her potions magic, are they just science, or are they a mix of both? Also, Wynnfrith’s drive to protect Oliver. This really helped develop her character, giving her more depth, and making her someone I can relate to. I am protective of my friends, especially against bullies. Except with Wynnfrith, instead of a bully, it’s an army of traitors!

Schur writes well, with a consistent voice throughout, and not many typos that I could see. I did like the quality of her descriptions, like on pg. 20, where she writes:

The hideous corpse face was still there—only inches from her own. Its teeth were yellow as a rodent’s and its breath foul as rotting meat.

This passage is full of details, using similes as well as colorful adjectives to create an image that had me screwing up my face in disgust.

A few things that I would change are: First, the pace seemed a little rushed. There is a lot of action, which I like, but there isn’t enough space between action scenes, which doesn’t leave much time for character development. Despite this, she still manages to develop her heroes, but the villains feel very one-dimensional; they’re your classic traitors. I would like to learn more about the villains. For example, why are they so cruel? Why do they hate King Goodliwink so much? My final comment is that I feel like the author relied too much on traditional plot points. However, the character of the Word Dancer is a nice deviation from the usual king-gets-overthrown story. I liked the addition of the magic of the words, although I would like to know more about what that is, exactly.

Overall, “The Word Dancer” is an interesting twist on a typical medieval tale. I would recommend this book to an audience of readers aged 8-12, and among those people, those who enjoy classic books set in medieval times, with a hint of fantasy. If you love Redwall, Robin Hood, or stories about King Arthur, then you’ll love this book!

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