Stout Hearts and Whizzing Biscuits

Stout Hearts and Whizzing BiscuitsStout Hearts & Whizzing Biscuits is an amusing story of 11 year old Oliver Stoop whose family inadvertently stumbles on the kingdom of Patria, a sovereign nation nestled in Indiana and founded thousands of years ago by ancient Greeks. It’s somewhat inexplicably similar to medieval Europe with castles and knights (plus an old Studebaker), although its inhabitants also include Native Americans, Irish monks, and Geat warriors. Oliver befriends Farnsworth and Rose, who are prince and princess of Patria, and together they unravel the mystery of the missing Treaty of Alliance between Patria and the United States.

The adventure is amusing and fast paced. I appreciated that it stays fairly light—although the mystery is important, you don’t get the “OMG the world is going to END!” feel that so many books for tweens have. The world is silly and populated by ridiculous people—my son has started reading it and was confused at first until I pointed out that Oliver has no idea what’s going on yet, either. I think he’ll find it amusing once he’s a few more chapters in.

SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid


There are a few stereotypes thrown around as jokes, such as a mention in passing that the police get annoyed when you call them to a hard to find place, it turns out there’s nothing going on when they get there, and you don’t have donuts to offer them. It’s truly a throwaway line, so I doubt it would even register on most readers’ radar, but if one of these jokes hits something that is particularly offensive to you, it might be annoying.

I don’t know enough to judge whether the descriptions of the Potawatomi tribe might be offensive, but I did wonder, for what that’s worth. Turkey Beard, the native guide for explorer and Patrian hero Odysseus Murgatroyd, is a major historical figure who is thought by some to be a traitor.

Rose is in many ways a typical princess and a typical older sister, but she’s also tough, clever, and competent. In the end, Oliver counts her among his best friends, even though he’s mostly been hanging out with her little brother Farnsworth which includes dodging Rose and occasionally trying to pull pranks on her.

Bill is one of the war re-enactors that Oliver’s dad leads. Bill is also the elderly mother-in-law of one of the other re-enactors (“Bill” is short for “Mabel”). She’s arguably the most aggressive of the re-enactors. There are also many female warriors among the Geats (although this leads to its own stereotype where the husbands are hen-pecked).


In the end, cleverness and an understanding of history win the day. There’s also a reminder that the things we think happened and what actually happened may not be the same thing. It’s made clear that history is only as reliable as the person passing it along, and that some people have less than honest agendas which makes their version of history less than reliable.


Patria is a sovereign kingdom in the middle of the United States, and people go to some great lengths to keep that secret. It seems like the main motivation for keeping the secret is that it’s not a big deal for Patria to exist since they were there first, but if everyone knew about it, someone would be bound to cause a fuss. It’s just easier if we don’t tell anyone.


There are some skirmishes, and there’s an implication that some people are playing for keeps, but overall it’s cartoonish and most of the people involved would probably be horrified if they really hurt someone. It seems to mostly be blustering and posturing because of perceived slights. The mystery involves a murder, but it happened long ago.


Most of the adults are pretty incompetent and/or shortsighted. It’s up to the kids to see past all the silliness, solve the mystery, and help make peace. Oliver is put in a position where he needs to decide whether to listen to his father or follow his own instincts about the Patrians.

The Patrians elect a king, because the people who don’t want to rule make the best kings. However, this approach leaves them with a king much more interested in writing poetry than ruling the kingdom—this allows a plot to form right under his nose.

Online Interaction

The Kingdom of Patria website provides further insight into Patria and the people who live there—such as a map, an interactive game, and additional stories, including some audio stories. It’s kept up well, with new features being added regularly.

I’m not sure what I think of the idea that, from the get-go, boys and girls are split into different games (boys can sign up for The Knights of the Blue Sock while girls are offered Madame Mimi’s Well-Ordered School for Ill-Mannered Girls—there’s nothing that forbids girls from joining the Knights or boys from checking out the school, but it’s strongly implied). It mirrors the options of Patria, but…yeah. On a gut level I would have preferred something more inclusive. I haven’t actually checked out the games yet, so I don’t know how they compare once you start playing.

We haven’t explored the website much yet, but I think meeting the characters that way is part of what’s helping push my son through the early chapters of the book, even though he’s still confused about what’s going on (so is Oliver, but such uncertainty about the world doesn’t tend to appeal to my boy). The little bit they’ve seen of the website so far has definitely made both my kids more interested in reading the books. When my son read Oliver’s bio, he said, “He sounds just like me!” I’ll add an update once they’ve finished reading.


This book was an amusing read. Personally I wasn’t too worried about the slight stereotypes, and I appreciate the message that history and the things you’re taught aren’t always true—it’s good to question even long established ideas. It’s a suitable book for ages 8 and up.

The book offers an appropriate challenge for precocious readers, and the website may help it appeal to reluctant readers.

Disclaimer: The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Stout Hearts & Whizzing Biscuits by Daniel McInerny
Published in 2011 by Trojan Tub Entertainment
Has a sequel, Stoop of Mastodon Meadow
Read on Kindle

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