A young king learns to treat his subjects with respect.
Ben the lion cub is king of his own private jungle (which doesn’t reach much further than his own backyard). He has faithful servants (his indulgent parents) and everything he could want, except for “a loyal subject.” None of the “local peasants”—that is, the other animal children—want to play with bratty Ben. One day a rhino calf (dubbed Sir Rhino) agrees to play with Ben, and for a while the pair are inseparable. But it doesn’t take long for Ben to spoil the fun with his selfish nature. As Ben seeks to fix what’s been done, little readers may see a bit of their own behavior mirrored in his. The illustrations evoke Calvin and Hobbes or the Bone cousins, and the gleeful compositions match that level of energy. The mixture of playful imagination and real-world setting (save for the anthropomorphic animal citizens) will help little readers draw out the parallels Ben and Rhino have to their own friendships. While not preachy, this is a useful text for examining what’s right and what’s wrong when it comes to play.
A dynamic and affecting story about what it takes to maintain a friendship. (Picture book. 4-7)