A cook and a king collide in the kitchen in this debut picture book.
Elderly cook Gracie endures a long, restless night. King Jack, whose room is just below hers, snores. His dog, Folksy, barks in his sleep. The grandfather clock is noisy. So Gracie feels very tired—so tired that when the king and his dog race through the kitchen, she tips over the spaghetti sauce and sends it flying, all over the monarch. To keep his burns from the hot sauce from becoming too serious, Gracie pours ice cold water over him. She follows that with sugar, which she knows will take the sting from the burns. The ruler is enraged; just what is his cook doing to him? He stands precariously, and Folksy takes that moment to obey the order to “come” that his master had uttered earlier, sending both the royal and the canine careening back into the mess of now-cooled sauce. But the fall allows the monarch time to realize that his burns don’t hurt, and gives Gracie a chance to explain her actions. King Jack licks the sugar-sweetened sauce from his coat and jokes that the flavor is delicious, but rather than following that line of thought, the story jumps to his generous request: “Cook… Do you think we can start again?” The monarch and Gracie clean the kitchen, then dine together on humble sandwiches and soup. The narrative of mistakes and forgiveness—on the parts of both characters—makes this work an original, folkish tale. While children may be surprised that the king offers to help his cook clean the kitchen, notes for discussion at the end of the story indicate there are biblical reasons for the monarch’s move, and illuminate the Christian angle behind the text by Grandma Tea and her granddaughters. In the whimsical but mismatched illustrations, Lamare captures the chaos of the events, but fails to conform to the character descriptions: elderly Gracie is pictured as a young cook with red hair, and the middle-aged king is spry, young, and thin. Both wear crosses, to clue in readers that the spiritual aspects exist. This simple story is appropriate for Sunday school classes.
A clever, royal tale with plenty of Christian elements to discuss, included in a helpful guide at the end.