The Sleeping King

Children - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
416 Pages
Reviewed on 09/02/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Laurel Colless brings a background in environmental business and literature to create a new kind of myth-making that reflects the reality of today’s children – separating from nature and from each other. Through storytelling Laurel Colless wants children to take the lead on big world problems like climate change, extreme weather, and plastic pollution, drawing wisdom from all the intelligences available: from super-technology to trees, and even from the croak of an occasional frog. Laurel Colless is an Al Gore Climate Reality Leader.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite

The Sleeping King is a remarkable book about climate change, written by Laurel Colless. Hidden away in Gum Tree Rest Home in Australia since his parents’ murders years earlier, eleven-year-old Peter Blue is woken from his sleep by a tall stranger, Tollen, who has a very long beard and an important message. Earth is dying. Pollution levels are at an all-time high, causing floods, superstorms and wildfires and, what’s more, the Dark Ones have discovered Peter’s location. Peter must move quickly to locate the book called The Wayfinder which will guide him, not only in stopping the Anthrog forces (which feed on the stench of human greed), but also ensuring that the destructive cycle causing these disasters comes to a screeching halt.

Laurel Colless has presented one of the most well-written and exciting books I have read in a very long time, which not only entices children to read about important issues which affect the future of life and the future of our planet. Embedded in such tragedy at a young age, the main character of the story – Peter Blue – has talents which instill hope and warmth and love for this planet that is so deep. Having been raised in Australia and surviving one of the worst firestorms in Australian history, I remember all too well growing up in the bush. For me, reading The Sleeping King was like watching a Cinemax film with subtitles – every single detail was written so well that the images played out perfectly in my mind. At one stage, I thought it might be on a story line par with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – but only the wardrobe was the star of the scene, leading to more amazing secrets of Peter’s past. The rescue of the baby wallaby was both heart-wrenching and inspiring, causing me to both laugh and cry in so many places.

With our planet being abused and climate change being held as fake by some of the biggest players in the crime scene, I feel it is absolutely imperative that The Sleeping King be read by all people, young and old, as the harsh facts are being swept under the carpet far too often. I enjoyed The Sleeping King immensely and feel it should be stocked in libraries at home, school, hospital, social offices and more. This is a message which is too important to ignore. I applaud Laurel Colless for her brilliant tale and look forward to reading further titles by this talented author in the future.

Christian Sia

The Sleeping King by Laurel Colless is a good fantasy read for children, warm and delightful, a story that is sprinkled with elements of mythology and magic. Eleven-year-old Peter Blue could be the incarnation of the powerful king who, upon his death, said he’d come back at the appointed time, because he spends his time sleeping. And that is until a strange man wakes Peter up from sleep and asks him to save the world.

Having lived in the Gum Tree Rest Home in the Australia bush all his life after his parents’ demise in a bush fire accident, can anything be strong enough to rouse Peter from his sleeping state? In the pocket of Dad’s jacket from the Global Advanced Intelligence Agency (GAIA), he will find a clue that gets him interested in the adventure of a lifetime, a card for Spiral Hall--a secret school for those with special skills. But he now has something coveted by the evil Anthrog that feed on human greed and are a powerful threat to the world. He has the key to get the Anthrog to where they badly want to be — GAIA — but can Peter outwit them and save the world before it’s too late?

A great story with exciting themes and characters. The themes in this fantasy tale include issues related to climate change. I enjoyed the characters, including Rani the frog, Peter the protagonist, and others. The dialogues are lively, indicating the author’s gift for humor and allowing character development to evolve. The Sleeping King is utterly entertaining and the writing is confident, balanced, and focused. The symbolism in this story is striking and the Anthrog represent the indifference and the human greed that is killing the earth. This is the kind of book that can used to raise awareness in children on global warming and other social issues threatening humankind.

Liz Konkel

The Sleeping King by Laurel Colless begins with the legend of a sleeping king destined to one day awaken. Everyone seems to think Peter Blue is this king. Peter has an unusual life with his grandmother at the Gum Tree Rest Home in Australia where every day is an adventure. Changes are on the way when Peter is woken up by a wizard and told he's meant to save the world, which he turns down until he discovers his dad's old Global Advanced Intelligence Agency jacket and finds an invitation to the Spiral Hall school for the ecodemically gifted. He finds a wallaby joey with a special talent for helping others and meets a strange woman claiming to be his godmother. She wants to take him away, but the residents at Gum Tree won't let that happen. To begin his quest Peter is sent off to London to stay with his greedy aunt and uncle until he's able to attend Spiral Hall. With the Anthrogs who feed on greed after him, Peter is running out of time to find the school and risks being stuck in London to attend the greedy school his uncle wants him to.

In a clever and brilliant read, Laurel Colless brings to life The Sleeping King with a range of colorful and quirky characters in a delightful adventure about saving the environment. The story is split between a few specific locations and story lines which tie together as part of Peter's journey. His life at the rest home is full of zany adventures and eccentric characters with larger than life personalities. The rest home is a place where anything is possible and there's never a dull moment. They're a family unit who take care of each other and the residents all pitch in to help take care of Peter. The rest home is a carefree and happy place where Peter truly feels like himself and feels loved. It doesn't matter if he talks about seeing ghosts or dreams of wizards or reads tea leaves, everyone there is also a little peculiar and they fully accept him for who he is. The shining star at Gum Tree is Pickles, the wallaby joey Peter becomes responsible for, but Pickles' role is more than just a pet. She plays a key role in the story, helping those at the rest home with various issues such as insomnia and loneliness.

Colless focuses the majority of the story on the environment with wildfires, recycling, and pollution. The next part finds Peter in London after leaving behind the haven of Australia for a gritter environment where greed runs rampant. His aunt and uncle's apartment is a contrast to the rest home, which is always full of life, because they barely pay attention to him, caring primarily about money, online shopping, and what's on TV. Details of his time in London are often described as dreary, taking after the personalities of his aunt and uncle. At the rest home everything takes on the sunny demeanor of the residents, giving his life a cozy and warm feeling while his time in London feels stifling and trapped. The Sleeping King is a delightful adventure that brings legends to life with characters full of colorful personalities, a hero's journey to save the environment, a battle against greed, and a wallaby joey named Pickles.

Sefina Hawke

The Sleeping King by Laurel Colless is a children’s science fiction fantasy story that would appeal most to a mixed audience of children and tweens who enjoy reading about kids being fantasy heroes. Peter Blue is an eleven-year-old boy who has lived at the Gum Tree Rest Home since the death of his parents. Peter’s sleepy life takes a sudden turn when his birthday leads him on a hunt that ends with a card for a secret school - known as Spiral Hall - discovered in his father's Global Advanced Intelligence Agency (GAIA) jacket. Does Peter have what it takes to save the world or will he fail before he even begins to try?

The Sleeping King by Laurel Colless is a well-written children’s story that feels like a cross between a King Arthur legend and the Agent Cody Banks movie. The cover is well designed to attract the interest of children with its bright colors and fantasy elements that hint at the story behind it. The author did a marvelous job in combining elements of both the fantasy and science fiction genres together in a children’s story. I personally got a laugh out of the scene that had Delvin Dean arguing with both his taxi driver and the matron about paying his fare and about staying at the Gum Tree Rest Home. Overall, as an adult I finished this book and was left feeling that while I enjoyed it very much, I would have enjoyed it even more as a child.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

There is a legend that speaks of a king who will awaken and save the world. Some believe that a young boy in Australia, who goes by the name of Peter Blue, is that sleeping king. But how could a ten-year-old boy living with his grandmother, Nonna, in an old people’s home be this sleeping king? He has some powers. He cares for the natural world around him. And he sleeps a lot. According to the older residents of the home, Peter sleeps more than they do. And he dreams. It’s during this time in Peter’s life that he rescues a joey wallaby whose mother escaped the forest fire with the joey in her pouch, only to die at Peter’s feet. Peter names the joey, Pickles, and the two become inseparable. That is until Nonna becomes deathly ill and Peter is sent to England. Her parting words to Peter, after reading a treasured story that includes a game of tag, “Peter, now you’re it.” And he is it. His aunt is married to a garbage businessman, who makes his fortune in garbage. So, not surprisingly, Peter is thrust from a world where nature is sacred into a world where everything is plastic and disposable.

Laurel Colless’s middle grade novel, The Sleeping King, is a long novel, divided into sections that follow Peter from his life with Nonna at the old people’s home to his move to England where he is to live with an aunt and the adventures he faces as he joins a secret school for special students, like himself, who care about the world, who want to protect it. The first section is rather comical as Peter co-exists with old people. Nonna, whose gift of sight requires a special crystal ball, is challenged by her grandson when he asks, “Why can’t we get a straight answer?” Her reply: “Because the crystal’s round, Peter. It’s a ball.” And the metaphor may be elusive to some, but Peter will eventually understand that the world, too, is round and there are no straight answers. This story, which has multiple stories within the story, is full of valuable lessons for young readers (and readers of all ages). The world in which we live is fragile and we need to take better care of it before it’s too late. With generations of throw-away mentalities, the stark contrasts in Peter’s world make the message quite clear. A powerful story full of adventure and, yes, a little bit of humor.