The Collapsing Kingdom

Children - Fable
176 Pages
Reviewed on 03/31/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

The Collapsing Kingdom: The Land Without Color, Book 3 is a fantasy/adventure novel for children and preteens written by Benjamin Ellefson and illustrated by Kevin Cannon. Something awful was happening in Brandon’s home town, and it seemed that there was no one in charge who could do anything about it. The exact degree of awfulness hit home to Brandon as he surveyed the deep abyss that had just swallowed up Grandpa Alvin. Was he still alive? Brandon considered going down after him, but figured he’d drop something down first to assess the depth of the impenetrable darkness. The can of peppers flashed briefly as it fell, but Brandon never heard the answering impact. He realized that he had to leave his grandfather’s house -- and quickly -- when he saw that a dull gray color was spreading out over everything he saw, all the normal colors one takes for granted turning gray and getting closer and closer to his feet. As he dashed up the basement stairs and out of the house, he looked back and saw that the whole house and yard had turned gray. Then, he watched horror-struck as the house and yard collapsed and fell into the pit. He and Grandpa Alvin knew who was responsible for this and, with Grandpa gone, Brandon realized that he had a lot of work to do and not much time in which to do it.

Benjamin Ellefson’s fantasy/adventure novel, The Collapsing Kingdom: The Land Without Color, Book 3, is a fast-paced and exciting romp as Brandon races against time to halt the destruction of his town and the surrounding countryside. This is the third book in Ellefson’s Land Without Color series, and it can be read on its own, but I’d strongly recommend that you read the books in order to get the full impact of this imaginative and compelling story -- which also gives young readers some rather novel ideas on why fruits and vegetables are much better for eating and growing as crops than, say, ice cream or chocolate. While I’m fully on board with the importance of a healthy diet, I still couldn’t resist a sigh as I beheld the mint ice cream plants -- surely they could be considered of some value as a treat after the salad? The real highlight of this series for me is watching as Brandon comes of age, which he really does in this third book. He’s resourceful, fast-thinking and courageous as he navigates the obstacles, which seem never-ending, in his quest to bring color back to the kingdom and its citizens. Kevin Cannon’s illustrations work perfectly with the story and add dimension and impact. The Collapsing Kingdom: The Land Without Color, Book 3 is most highly recommended.

Marta Tandori

Spider Riders…robot Color Collectors…twin princesses and a very accommodating bald eagle… These are just some of the interesting characters in Benjamin Ellefson’s highly imaginative chapter book, The Collapsing Kingdom, with illustrations provided by Kevin Cannon. Upon arriving at his Grandpa Alvin’s house, young Brandon discovers that his grandfather is nowhere to be found. More importantly, though, his grandfather’s house is slowly draining of all color with Brandon about to fall victim next. Brandon makes it out of the house in time to watch it crumble and disappear into a bottomless pit. He immediately suspects that it’s the sinister vipers stealing color from the kingdom, and that it’ll be up to him to save the kingdom and his Grandpa Alvin. After borrowing money from his best friend for supplies, Brandon heads to the twin princesses’ castle to enlist their help, but inadvertently falls into the deep moat surrounding the castle where he becomes an unwilling guest of the Spider Riders, after getting caught in a giant spider web from which he’s rescued. Just when Brandon thinks there’s no hope of escape and that the kingdom is doomed, he figures a way out of his predicament and finds an unlikely ally in a giant bald eagle named Scout.

Ellefson’s story is charming and highly imaginative. He combines a high-octane adventure story with an eclectic cast of characters that either assist or attempt to thwart Brandon’s mission to restore color to the kingdom. What makes The Collapsing Kingdom particularly clever is that the author teaches children about the importance of vegetables and fruit as part of a nutritious diet. Both the narrative and dialogue are age appropriate and these elements, coupled with a great adventure, are sure to make this a compelling story for any young reader. Cannon’s gray-scale illustrations perfectly capture and complement the emotions and actions conveyed throughout the book.

The Collapsing Kingdom is Book 3 in The Land Without Color series and while it works well as a standalone, it makes references at the beginning of the book to General Droww’s medals, Officer Reed finding Brandon and hauling him off to jail, as well as reference to the sinister vipers. There needs to be context provided to readers who haven’t read the first two books in the series in order to better understand Brandon’s motivations for taking the action that he does. Without this context, the story is a little confusing at the beginning. All in all, though, The Collapsing Kingdom is a wonderful chapter book that is sure to please many a young reader hankering for their next great adventure.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Brandon’s house is collapsing into a giant hole. The ground around him is disintegrating and the people, places and things are all losing their color. He has to do something to save the world from vanishing into a grey void of nothing. But what? People continually challenge the boy to share his color. He argues that his color is a result of his healthy diet. He eats lots of vegetables. He even offers the others some of his fresh vegetables. They turn up their noses and demand he share his color. The adventure turns into a nightmare as Brandon seeks a way to restore color to his world.

Benjamin Ellefson has written a really fantastical story to thrill young readers. The Collapsing Kingdom, Book 3 from The Land Without Color series, has an exciting plot that includes evil robots, snakes, and hidden traps. But there’s also a hidden message: “Eat healthily.” Brandon frequently voices his opinion on the importance of eating fresh vegetables. In fact, when he’s preparing his survival kit before venturing on the quest to restore the kingdom’s balance, he makes sure to pack plenty of fresh vegetables, even some that kids normally wouldn’t appreciate, like eggplant. With clever illustrations by Kevin Cannon, the story develops at a fast pace with lots of action and strange creatures to thicken the plot – all things young readers enjoy in an adventure story. The author clearly enjoys writing for young readers. His author voice reveals a sense of childlike pleasure in the adventures he unveils. A great story to entice even the most reluctant young reader. And a story that might actually help young readers understand the importance of eating healthily.

Lit Amri

“Will you be brave? Will you be honest and true? Will you always work hard and be prepared? And will you always remember to eat your vegetables?” The Land Without Color, written by Benjamin Ellefson and illustrated by Kevin Cannon, returns with Book 3, The Collapsing Kingdom. The Kingdom of Color needs saving again. Grayness is spreading across the land, houses collapse into giant pits and people are missing, including Grandpa Alvin. The quick-thinking, 12-year-old Brandon, together with his friends, Steven and Scout, the bald eagle, must rescue everyone and bring color back to the land. They must avoid eating the gray brainwashing soup and outwit the ever persistent Officer Reed, the snakes and the robots.

This third installment of the series is not a standalone. Readers who are new to the series will be able to grasp the story better by reading Book 1, The Land Without Color, and Book 2, The Great Sugar War. The quality of characterization and dialogue is as good as its predecessors. The drawings are as fun and eye-catching as ever, giving both a modern and a classic look at the same time. It’s an imaginative, nuanced approach to educating children about healthy, natural food. It also inspires critical thinking and courage to stand up for oneself using the classic theme of good versus evil. On the whole, The Collapsing Kingdom is another magical and whimsical adventure for fans of the series. I’m sure there’s more to come from Benjamin Ellefson, and hopefully illustrator Kevin Cannon will again bring his story to life.

Kayti Nika Raet

The Collapsing Kingdom by Benjamin Ellefson is the third book in The Land Without Color series. Returning readers who were first introduced to The Land Without Color will now follow the adventures of Brendan, a plucky child who heeded the stories of his Grandpa Alvin. Throughout the Kingdom, the grayness has returned; however, not only is color fading away but great holes are appearing beneath people's feet and swallowing house whole. Nutritious fruits and vegetables are no longer growing, the only thing anyone is allowed to eat is a tasteless grey slop. But with the help of a giant bald eagle and his best friend, Brandon must elude capture, find the twin princesses, Gwendolyn and Sapphire, and rescue Grandpa Alvin ... all before evil vipers takeover the kingdom forever.

The Collapsing Kingdom by Benjamin Ellefson is the third and final book in what has shown to be a unique and promising trilogy. The premise is timely and clever and Ellefson provides a fresh voice to the narrative. Throughout the series, Ellefson never talks down to the reader, understanding that children can grasp complex concepts as long as they're presented in a fun way. He turns eating vegetables into an adventure. The action is well written and paced in a way that doesn't drag and will easily leave the young reader wanting more. The Collapsing Kingdom by Benjamin Ellefson is a fast paced read with a good message and a satisfying conclusion. A great book for any young reader.