Humphrey and the Seven Golden Rings by JB Heart
In JB Heart’s Humphrey and the Seven Golden Rings, readers follow Humphrey, a caterpillar with many brothers and the outcast of a royal family. Often during his lifetime, Humphrey’s brothers would make fun of him, telling him that he came from the forest nearby, that he was not the child of their parents, that he was ugly, and that nobody liked him. With his head full of the lies and his heart believing them, Humphrey finally ran away to the forest, eventually finding himself in a glade with mysterious magical powers. Humphrey eats and drinks from the glade, and sleeps through the night – all whilst having nightmares about his family back home. When Humphrey awakes, he finds that he has turned into a beautiful, white caterpillar, complete with seven golden rings along his body. Not stopping to ponder the change, Humphrey continues on into a town, hopeful of finding a place to stay. When Humphrey arrives at an inn, he is permitted to stay by the owner, who is so enamored by Humphrey’s appearance. Humphrey stays at the inn free of charge, eventually falling in love with the daughter of the owner. As the story continues, Humphrey is challenged by enemies, friends, and frenemies, and must partake in battles and wars along his journey to find himself, discover the meaning of the mysterious golden rings, and to save the forest from destruction.
JB Heart creates a story of mystery, action, romance, and heartfelt repentance, all packed into 40 pages. While this can be beneficial to this type of tale, it can also be harmful in the storytelling aspect of such an adventure. Though there were many elements to this story and the plot line developed quickly, it led to a lack of explanation of, for example, character backgrounds, details of surroundings, or extensive descriptions of the action taking place. This led to a fast-paced story, but one that could have benefitted from additional details input into the writing. Additionally, throughout the story, it was often difficult to determine the audience for which it was being written. Though the elements of storytelling were often geared towards children, such as the morals of the story, the settings and the characters themselves, or the undeveloped backgrounds of the characters (perhaps this was on purpose, if written for children), there was often advanced language and syntax used, and vocabulary that children might not be able to fully understand. Another issue that arose as a reader was the behavior of Humphrey throughout the story. Towards the beginning, readers may view Humphrey as young and naïve, and as someone who would be impressionable enough to believe that he was adopted, simply as a result of the tormenting of his brothers. However, the end of the story suggests that Humphrey is much older, as he commands troops and leads wars, has become King of the forest, and has taken Esmeralda to be his wife. Though Humphrey does undergo his change to a butterfly during the course of the story, there seems to be little time that has passed between the beginning and the end of the novel, and no attention drawn towards the character changes that Humphrey may have undergone as a result of his transformation. Overall, however, the story is entertaining as it stands, and would be recommended for readers of younger ages. The story of Humphrey and of the challenges he endures is enjoyable, action-packed, and full of ethics and morals that can be absorbed by younger readers.
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