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THE NOTHING KING by Elle van Lieshout


by Elle van Lieshout & Erik van Os & illustrated by Paula Gerritsen

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 2004
ISBN: 1-932425-14-4
Publisher: Lemniscaat/Boyds Mills

A message-laden treatise on the joys of the simple life that lacks context and child appeal. King Bear has left his castle (and his queen). He settles happily into a small apartment and divests himself of his carriage, robes and responsibilities. When the Queen arrives to discuss the situation, the King declines to return to the palace—and when his neighbors mock him, he simply laughs. While adults who share King Bear’s disdain for power and wealth will admire his choices, children will more likely be bewildered by his decision to reject responsibility and ignore peer pressure. Gerritsen’s illustrations, most in soft tones of green and brown, suit the low-key story well and offer amusing asides, such as the king’s pet rabbit’s budding romance with a shy new friend. Children may enjoy tracking this relationship, which is never mentioned in the text, but neither this charming detail nor the happy ending (the Queen joins her husband) can compensate for a not-very-child-friendly plot. (Picture book. 6-8)