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The idea is a child-wise, all-size charmer, but the book needs redoing--beginning with the first line: ""Once there was a king who made sure that each of the ordinary things around his castle were all different from one another."" (Of all the different ways of saying that, surely this must be the clumsiest.) But, felicitously, each key he has, each umbrella, each basket, each water faucet (!), each toothbrush (!!) is different from the other, ""for all his life the king had seen to it that this was so."" He is, in short, a collector--who makes local sorties and ""long and difficult journeys"" in pursuit of odd, select objects: ""three snazzy jazzy buttons from a prize wrestler's dressing gown""; pictures of famous cars and famous robbers (all illustrated, of course). He's even a collecting fool of a cook. Then he gets bored, miserable, sick; all he wants, alas, is a collection of pleasant sounds. And, shaking his shoebox of shells ""sadly and slowly from side to side,"" he hears the sound of the sea on the shore; putting on the softest and wooliest of his hats, he captures ""the sudden quiet sound"" that follows the first snowfall. And so on to the discovery of all the different, pleasant sounds to be found--as a sick child might too--without leaving his bed. A book to excite the imagination, then--but illustrated with an unappetizing finickiness that makes everything look like a doll-house side of beef, minute and glazed.

Pub Date: April 6th, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday