The titular king, a smallish character made of paper and featuring crayoned features and crown, converses with many creatures and inanimate objects in a series of double-page “chapters,” each title beginning, “The King and….”
Humorous yet elegant collages perfectly complement tiny tales that will sometimes elicit conversation, sometimes a knowing smile or an outright laugh, and occasionally a shrug of incomprehension. There is no violence or even unpleasantness, save one bee sting. Reading the book from beginning to end produces the satisfaction of bonding with the very human king as he engages in learning and in bettering himself. His conversations often begin from the double traits of pride and ignorance, then end with his humble acceptance of an improved interpretation of the world. The least subtle tale is the funny “The King and the Dog,” during which the red-faced king shouts a series of commands—including “Stop! Fetch! Heel!”—to a calm, intransigent pup across the gutter. “I am the king!” is part of the tirade. The final sentence: “Then he ran off after the dog.” The youngest readers will love the king’s blissful, sleeping countenance after his losing battle against sleep. Occasionally the king finds his own capability, as when he lights a candle to solve an impasse with the night.
This gem’s childlike warmth, whimsy, and wisdom bring to mind The Little Prince. (Picture book. 7 & up)