‘Prince Roger sets out eagerly on a quest and finds a few adventures, a lot of friends, a damsel or two in distress (not!) and himself, in the end. A ‘carrier of joy’ whose mere presence causes everyone to laugh uncontrollably, Roger finds cruelty and kindness equally amusing, and expects his quest to be a lark. It’s anything but: As Roger passes through the Forever Forest, nearly starves at the Dastardly Divide, sees people at their worst in the Valley of Vengeance, and temporarily despairs in the Mountains of Malice, he sobers up, learns to care for others, becomes an expert peacemaker, does Good Deeds, and falls in love with Lady Sadie, who says what she thinks as she repeatedly saves his bacon.’—K. ‘Feiffer’s worldly-wise, confiding tone and sense of the absurd are highly congenial, and the drawings are a vintage Feiffer delight.’—Publishers Weekly.
100 Books for Reading and Sharing 1995 (NY Public Library)
Jules Feiffer won hearts and a whole new audience when he leapt from the realm of cartooning to create books. His The Man in the Ceiling, the story of Jimmy the boy cartoonist, was a boisterous calling for us to believe in our dreams. In A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears Feiffer gives us more help in understanding our dreams: If we don't end up where we think we're going in life, maybe we're better off somewhere else--like where we are now. He introduces us to Roger, a prince with such a sense of humor that the king's wizard sends him on a quest to sober him up a bit. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the quest backfires: Roger enters the Forever Forest, traipses over the Dastardly Divide, and ventures downward into the Valley of Vengeance only to find himself on an entirely different quest than the one the wizard sent him on. Lucky for us, Feiffer's cartooning experience makes him an adventurous author, and he takes us on the ride of our lives, complete with timely asides, wizened wisecracks, silly drawings of characters walking in and out of the story, and more. A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears will give people of all ages (especially rowdy teenagers who sneak comic books to classes) a barrel of laughs and a wallop of wisdom!