Sunday, 4 September 2016

The Foolish King: The Secret Story of Chess by Mark Price and Martin Brown (Non-fiction, Children's, 7 years +, 10/10E)

Gorgeous illustrations! They are all like this cover
1st September, David Fickling books, 80 pages, Hardback, Review copy

Summary from press release email 
Long, long ago, when kings ruled the land, dragons filled the sky and magic still existed, two small children stumbled upon the game of chess. This is your chance to discover it with them . . . Join Pip and Holly on their magical fairy-tale adventure and become a chess master!

An interactive, smartly-designed, iPad app that is the perfect introduction to chess for children and adults alike – ideal for children aged six and above.

The app features a magical fairy-tale storybook about the secret history of chess, brought vividly to life by Martin Brown, illustrator of the mega-selling Horrible Histories; easy-to-understand rules of the game; clear tutorials to help you learn how to play chess; tips on how to improve your technique; and suggestions for chess moves to try. It also features one and two player game options, three different levels, easy, medium and hard, and the ability to play a friend either side-by-side or opposite each other as on a traditional board.



- Your copy of the Foolish King book (Retailed at £10.99)


- Learn chess basics through ‘How To Play’ tutorials


- Play chess with the insects and bees from the story

- Play against the computer or your friend

- Help and prompts when playing chess

- 3 different levels of chess game difficulty

Beautifully illustrated throughout

Nayu's thoughts
This review is for the book, and also the app. Well, it should be for the app! I tried downloading it on a family member's ipad which I have on permanent loan so I can play Japanese games. The problem is I'm linked to the Japanese iTunes, not the English one, so can't get the app. I try to get it on another family member's ipad and the app store misbehaves, refusing to load up. This reinforces my not so great experiences with Apple, which I won't go into here. I'm only using one because I adore Love Live School Idol Festival Game so much and for storage reasons can't have it on my tablet. #annoying

However, as of yet there isn't an android version for The Foolish King app, although I've heard there will be. It looks so very cool, to be able to practice the moves in the book which explain how each piece works will be the icing on the cake. I will review it when it hits android, since I understand and have an android tablet. 

Knowing what the book is like (full review in next paragraph), I'm 99% certain the app will be amazing, so do go buy it from slightly evil Apple. As an android user I get frustrated when apps are only in iTunes, but all good things come to those who wait so The Foolish King will be available to me at some point! Thanks to the publisher for providing the code so I can have a free copy, only due to technological issues I can't use it. Time for my review of the book, as I'm sure you've heard enough of my Apple grumbles. I could make a bad joke about apple crumble but I won't. 

I learnt to play chess when I was at school, but I've no idea who taught me or how. I do know that I love this book! The story is clever in how it makes every piece vital to the game (which it is) and every single creature even worms (which I may have pounded with a glass when I found one under my cat's bowl - I have a phobia of all things that wiggle and that worm had to die) are useful to the garden. I was intrigued as to how chess moves would be explained, and the animals chosen are absolutely perfect for each chess piece. I found myself tracing the path for the insects on the practice boards which helped drum in the rook movements, which I find tricky to remember. It then examines a full game incorporated within the imaginative story which was totally unpredictable (in a good way) and had me captivated from start to finish. 

I have to say a huge part of my enjoyment has been from the illustrations. I grew up reading Horrible Histories, and while the facts were interesting I frequently flicked through the books just looking at the hilarious pictures in a style which is distinctly Martin. I couldn't look at all the insects closely (and was eternally grateful the snake wasn't drawn (Or I just blanked it out)) but I loved the ants, and the expressions of both human and animal are detailed, making it clear what mood they are in. I possibly would have liked a few more pages with various strategies, but perhaps that may be for a sequel! Definitely a must for anyone wanting to understand chess in a clear, fun way.

Essential contact info for Mark Price & David Fickling Books 
                  David Fickling Books 
                  David Fickling Books 
                  Mark Price 

App details
  • THE FOOLISH KING app will be available from iTunes for iPad in September priced £3.99
  • The app is being released in UK, US, Canada, South Africa, Australia and NZ 
  • Priced: UK £3.99, US: $4.99, Canada: $6.99, SA: 99.99 Rand. Australia: $7.99 AUD, NZ: $7.49 

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