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The Search for Delicious
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The Search for Delicious

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  2,037 ratings  ·  227 reviews
The Prime Minister is compiling a dictionary, and when no one at court can agree on the meaning of "delicious," the King sends his twelve-year-old messenger, Gaylan, to poll the citizenry. Gaylan soon discovers that the entire kingdom is on the brink of civil war, and must enlist help to define "delicious" and save the country.
Paperback, 176 pages
Published April 8th 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published 1969)
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The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald DahlSwitch! The Lost Kingdoms of Karibu by Karen  Prince
Best Children's Fantasy
104th out of 531 books — 761 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Outsiders by S.E. HintonOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken KeseyA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Best Books of the Decade: 1960's
201st out of 636 books — 830 voters

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Community Reviews

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This was my ABSOLUTE favorite book during my elementary school years...because of this book I went on to read all of Babbitt's works (which I love as well, but this is my fav still)...I now own a very nice hardcover edition of Search for Delicious and it sits in a place of honor next to all the other Babbitt books I own. I re-read it once a year and I'll pass it along to my children when they get old enough. Enjoy!
I read this book as part of a "literary discussion group" for my 5th grader's class. Each week the kids got together and discussed the reading. They had weekly assignments as well as a "discussion worksheet" that they filled out to help promote discussion. It was pretty cool to see these fifth graders start down the path of analyzing and really thinking about the books they were reading. Tons of fun.

As to the book, it's an entertaining read with some interesting themes and principles. The high l
My 14 year old daughter found this on a shelf and had vague memories of hearing me read it years ago. It was a fun departure from our more serious, academically motivated read alouds. A sweet story about the importance of both language and water, topics close to our family's hearts. The vocabulary was not challenging for a 14 year old, though we renewed familiarity with 'lithe' and 'zephyr' and touched on spelling a bit as we went. I would recommend it as a fabulous family read-aloud for any abl ...more
Jennifer Lavoie
A wonderful tale about how everyone can come together and agree on something, even if originally they disagreed. In this story, Gaylen, a young boy, is sent to poll the kingdom on what the meaning of delicious is. Since everyone has a different opinion, fights often break out. But in the end, it's someone who previously had no voice that makes a difference, just by sharing the joy of water.

And after reading this and thinking about a long drive I had yesterday, it's very true. Nothing is more de
Milanie Howard
I loved this book when I was a kid, and, really, what's not to love? A boy on a quest, mythical creatures, a magic spring, and the happiest of endings -- all make for worthwhile adventure. But beyond that, the book illustrates all the worst and best of human behavior, suspicion and kindness, anger and innocence, and the consequences of letting fear dictate our thoughts and actions. A war begun for silly reasons is as destructive and dangerous as a war begun for a righteous cause. Or maybe the le ...more
This book is one of the best things I read as an older child. I picked it up once out of a box of books a neighbor had given us when they moved. I figured it would just be a quick read to occupy my time during a long summer. However, I was quite surprised by what it held inside.

The Search for Delicious is the tale of a nation torn apart by a simple definition. They are creating a dictionary for their nation to use and while things had gone fine for a while, the definition of "delicious" had cre
This was probably a re-read. I'd be willing to bet I read this when I was a child. But I'm not sure... and upon this read I'm not surprised... it is delightful, with adventure and humor, word-play and satire and a quest and lessons learned.... but it's just not all that memorable. The characters aren't very rich, and the adventure seems fairly predictable.

I suggest reading it more than once within the space of a year or two, not over decades. That way you'll give it a chance to work its way into
I probably could have stuck with 3 stars and still made this an honest review. But guess what? I love this style of writing so much it's nice to find an example of it that genuinely works. I was willing to give Babbitt another chance after Tuck disappointed me greatly, and she delivered what just may be my ideal example of pleasure reading: an unusual fantasy that doesn't have any roots in reality (perhaps some sly parody of war) and doesn't at all take itself seriously. The wit and descriptive ...more
If it wasn't for Sister Willburn, I'm sure I would just think this was a fun book with an interesting plot. But since this was one of the books I had to read for English this year, I got to hear all of her wonderful insights on it. Natalie Babbitt's messages about religion and education were really profound(although they reminded me a lot of Ben, ha, ha).

Summary: Gaylen, the adopted son of the prime minister, sets off on a journey to poll the kingdom to find out the true meaning of the word "del
Jen Jen
We listened to this book on tape while on a family vacation. It was relatively short (less than 3 hours) and there was a mystery to be solved so it kept people looking for clues. I also liked the redeeming message. The main character goes through a sort of hero journey through the country trying to find the definition of the word delicious. He comes to know and love the people of the land so he is willing to work to protect the people from a man who is trying to lead the country into civil war. ...more
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It's been almost 20 years since I read this! I remember that one weekend I was supposed to read the first few chapters so we could discuss it in my third or fourth-grade class, and instead, I read the entire thing in one sitting. Not much of the book has stuck with me, but I remember a character going kind of crazy and throwing nuts around (was his name Hemlock?). Mostly, I remember the conclusion - what they finally all agree on as being truly delicious. It's a very satisfying answer that I won ...more
Lydia Berglar
My mom used to read books out loud to my family, before life became so hectic. Once I got older, I went back and re-read some of my favorites. I remembered a book about a quest, a definition for "delicious", a drought, and a mermaid. I couldn't find the book anywhere because I couldn't quite remember the name. Finally I figured out what it was and immediately requested it from the library. I still love this book as much as I did when I was 7. Believe it or not, it is a book about war. Through 12 ...more
Juliana Haught
This is a charming, wonderful story. I read this out loud to my family while we were on a long car trip, and everyone enjoyed it. A young boy is charged with a task for his King, and on his journey he meets magical beings and deal with unreasonable people. We had lots of laughs, and there are many touching moments. This is one the kids kept pondering after we were all done with it.
This book is adorable. I have remembered this story for years and kept trying to remember the title. So here it is. I'm a little sad it is so male-centric, especially since the author is a woman. But it is sweet, funny, and well-written. Definitely a classic, and this proves that young adult literature does not have to be trash or written poorly.
(Fantasy 1969) I pulled this book off the shelf in the elementary school to repair the binding and decided to read it. The story began rather childishly (unsurprising in an elementary school library) but soon showed a depth of meaning. In a small country, the Prime Minister is writing a dictionary, giving an example of each word. For Delicious, he cites "fried fish." Everyone who hears this has their own take, and pretty soon there is discord and argument. A young boy, Gaylen, is sent to poll th ...more
What a fabulous little book! This would make a great movie. Gaylen, the Prime Minister's assistant, is assigned the task of polling the kingdom to discover what food is most delicious. This task leads him to meet strange beings and to accomplish something even greater. Enjoy!
Rosalind Spell
Thank you, Ms. Keebler, for reading this to us in 2nd grade, with your sparkly red chair and your Tab. Every day, we waited to hear what delicious truly was. And it is.
A very interesting book! It amazes me that Natalie Babbit can think up such an interesting story!
Fairy-tale like story of a boy who is sent out to find out what the people in the kingdom think is the definition of "delicious". The King's jealous nephew, Hemlock, sees an opportunity to create discorde in the kingdom and seize power for himself. The young boy manages to thwart him with the help of a mermaid.

The writing was well done, especially in the descriptions of nature at night. The story itself was an homage to the Brothers Grimm, with a mermaid, a tree-dweller, dwarfs working in mines
it was awsesome, if you haven't read it READ IT!
Rachel Escobar
This book was a little all over place for me. I do not think connections were made very well between the prolog and the actual story. Also I felt like it was a little boring and it waited until the very end to tie all the loose ends it left together. I do however think that it does have a good message when it comes to everyone having a different definition for delicious, I think it is implying that what is to you might not be to someone else and we all different experience and memories with thin ...more
A charming story told in the style of a folk tale. A young boy goes on a quest to poll the kingdom about what the people think is the most delicious food. Such a simple question ends up bringing the kingdom almost to civil war. Meanwhile the boy discovers the hidden wonders of his world including gnomes in deep caves, woldwellers in the highest trees and a special mermaid with a broken heart at the land's water source. Recommended for readers who enjoy tales about olden times mixed with a bit of ...more
I thought that this book was very simple in plot,
pretty predictable, but a breeze to get through.
Although I didn't like how the main character didn't take faster action
and get help to solve the problem, I thought it was an Ok read.
I honestly got impatient for the ending because I knew what was coming, but it all depended on the actions of the young boy to decide and do it.
Otherwise, the theme was clear and the humans were fools, and it was interesting to keep me going, but only to an extent.
Alanna (The Flashlight Reader)
Summary from Amazon: Gaylen, the King’s messenger, a skinny boy of twelve, is off to poll the kingdom, traveling from town to farmstead to town on his horse, Marrow. At first it is merely a question of disagreement at the royal castle over which food should stand for Delicious in the new dictionary. But soon it seems that the search for Delicious had better succeed if civil war is to be avoided.
Gaylen’s quest leads him to the woldweller, a wise, 900-year-old creature who lives alone at the prec
The Search for Delicious seems a simple tale, and it is. But it is a simple tale which is really enjoyable and humorous. The very idea of a kingdom going to war with itself over the definition of a word brings to mind the war between the Lilliputians and Bigenders in Gulliver's Travels, who went to battle over which end to break one's egg. There is, however, an underlying message that humans just take. While this is certainly true about governments and people as a mass, it isn't of the individua ...more
Colton Nisley
**************The Search For Delicous****************** the search for delicous is about a boy named Gaylen who is sent by the king to find the defintion of the word delicous. Gaylen was given to the king by his mother. The prime minister is writing a dictionary and has a definition for every word except for the word delicous. Though the prime minister has asked the defintion of delicous before, he cannot find an answer because everyone argues over the definition. So the king sends Gaylen on a ...more
Kameela Fletcher
This book had kind of a slow start when they were talking about the prime minister. But I'm glad I kept reading because it was read to me in second grade and I wanted to re-read it, and I loved to refresh my mind with all of those great memories.

I loved how in this book it was kind of suspenseful and at the same time super cute. I love how Natalie Babbitt mixed in fantasy like the Woldweller, The Three Trolls, and Ardis, with kind of realistic fiction but not really. I loved how every descriptio
Jundie Lulu
I liked this book because it was a really wild. For example," What is a good definition for "delicious". The King says Apples, the Queen says Christmas pudding, and the general says beer. They started fighting then the king said, " Let someone travel around the kingdom to find the most delicious food there is". This quote explains that if someone wants someone else to go around a place and find the most delicious food, that would be kinda weird. This proves that this is a wild book.
Viktoriya Tsoy
After reading this and Tuck Everlasting back to back, I have to admit that Tuck Everlasting has in my taste a more captivating story. This story while wonderful seemed a little more on the childish side (which it so intends in many ways) but never the less, it was a very enjoyable read - and the ending was very sweet, and satisfying. Cute little story, not much to complain about, and of course a beautiful metaphor of humanity if one so chooses to see it that way.
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Natalie Babbitt was born Natalie Zane Moore on July 28, 1932, in Dayton, Ohio. She attended Laurel School for Girls, and then Smith College. She has 3 children and is married to Samuel Fisher Babbitt. She is a grandmother of 3 and lives in Rhode Island.

She is also a board member of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance a national not-for-profit that actively advocates for literacy, li
More about Natalie Babbitt...
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“They've really begun the war," he said to himself. "And all over a word in a dictionary, the ninnies!” 3 likes
“That doesn't sound like civil war to me," said Gaylen, turning back to his book with a smile. "It only sounds silly."

"Of course it's silly," said the Prime Minister impatiently. "But a lot of serious things start silly.”
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