King Billy and the Royal Road
Author: RC Ajuonuma
Illustrator: Beverley Young
“King Billy and the Royal Road” is a lovely children’s book, based on the Major Arcana of the Tarot (which are often referred to as the Royal Road). It is written in short paragraphs, akin to poetry, and shows a fluid series of thoughts for a young boy called Billy.
The format of the story is very much fairy tale/adventure, with Billy waking up to an empty refrigerator. No food! He tries to wake his mother, but is unable to, so he makes the decision to grab a sack, and a stick, and begin his journey to find food. (For those who know the Tarot, in the card entitled The Fool the character is on a journey, with his belongings tied up in a sack that he carries at the end of a stick. Billy makes his way past a dog that his mother has told him is his best friend, while the Fool has a little white dog that travels with him, and nips at his heels.)
Note: I need to mention here that Billy lives with his mother, who feeds him well and keeps him protected from the outside world. Indeed, he has no experience of the outside world, about people, and places, because his mother does not let him out.
Throughout his journey, Billy comes upon people and places that have food to offer. They also offer him other things – such as an atlas to the world (where he could find food on his own), and words of wisdom (he is not the Prince that he thinks he is). He ends up with more food than he cares for, but he has lost the beautiful young lady he talked to on his journey.
The dog that is mother had told him was his friend reappears. In his haste to get away from him, Billy ends up in a cave, with a lamp on a table of stone, and a book. Every page said the same thing: “Be brave, be true, and your heart will find you.”
This is quite a fascinating journey, divided into three parts: Part 1 – The Way To Your Heart, Part 2 – Be Brave, Be True, and Part 3 – What Was Lost Can Be Found. This coincides readily with one way of breaking down the Major Arcana into stages of progression on the journey to enlightenment: (1) consciousness (the outer concerns of society), (2) subconscious (our inner search for self), and (3) superconscious (developing a spiritual awareness). It is presented in a manner that a young child can understand.
It was a pleasure to read this book, with the gentle black and white images by artist Beverley Young. It certainly lends itself to and adult reading the book to/with a child, and to ensuing discussions about what the child is getting from the book. I would love to read more books from author RC Ajuonuma along this line.
© February 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.