THE KING OF CAPRI

Jeanette Winterson, Author, Chuck Yungkurth, Author, Jane Ray, Illustrator , illus. by Jane Ray. Bloomsbury $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58234-830-8

A gluttonous king gets a taste of what it's like to go hungry in this quirky tale of topsy-turvy fortunes, the children's book debut of award-winning novelist Winterson (Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit). After gorging himself at a grand party with his favorite foods ("Why have I got two hands but only one mouth?" he wonders), the King of Capri settles in for a night of carb-overloaded slumber. While he sleeps, a frenzied tempest blows the monarch's fortune—including his clothes, treasure and the mustaches of the night watchmen—across the bay to the city of Naples where the bounty lands in the yard of kindly hardworking washerwoman Mrs. Jewel and her cat, Wash ("Two mouths to feed... but only one supper," she observes). Mrs. Jewel shares her newfound wealth with Wash and her neighbors, becoming Queen of the city. Having grown "lonely and sad and thin" as well as remorseful, the King (now glad he has "only one mouth to feed") "swallow[s] his pride" and makes a fortuitous visit to the Queen. Winterson adds plenty of whimsy and snappy dialogue to her original fairy tale, even if the delivery grows a bit precious. Extending the story's overall distinctive tone, Ray's (Twelve Dancing Princesses) mixed-media compositions are by turns magical and exotic; bits of textured paper and product labels serve as collage accents to her typical jewel-toned palette. The Isle of Capri and bay of Naples have rarely looked so inviting. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/11/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
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