King Alice lays down the law when her family is snowbound.
After anointing herself King Alice (“You mean…Queen?” Sir Dad asks; “No! KING!”—but this is not a book about overturning gender norms), the pint-sized monarch decides she and her father will make a book together. With a little nudging from Mom, their story begins with “King Alice the First and the royal brave knights having breakfast.” Chapter 2 continues it with a princess tea party. And so the day goes, with a red-bathrobe–clad Alice moving from activity to activity as her beleaguered father tries to keep up (at one point Alice abruptly begins Chapter 5: “ ‘What happened to chapters 3 and 4…?’ Dad wondered pointlessly”) and her mother takes care of the baby and feeds the family. Cordell gets the aimlessness of a day without structure perfectly as well as the elliptical, arbitrary composition style of a young child in Alice’s writing. Unfortunately, the result is a rather aimless plot, one that seems to place Dad’s frazzlement at its center rather than Alice’s ebullience. Cordell’s characteristically scratchy illustrations depict a happy, mixed-race family (Dad presents white, Mom has brown skin and black hair, and the two children have light-brown skin and black hair) in a comfortably messy house. Alice’s metafictive story appears on faux lined paper and cleverly mirrors the events of the day.
Sweet and loving characters can’t quite make up for a lack of plot. (Picture book. 4-8)