THE NOTHING KING

Elle van Lieshout, Author, Elle Van Lieshout, Author, Handprint, Author , illus. by Paula Gerritsen. Front Street/Lemniscaat $15.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-932425-14-7

This Dutch team tells a fable about a runaway king, who is happiest in humbler surroundings, with warmth and economy. The front endpapers show the big brown ursine monarch in an ermine robe, facing a pile of documents in despair. On the title page, he drives his own royal carriage away from the castle to an apartment building in town. "Why, Your Majesty,...Where are your servants?" says the landlord. "Not here," says the king happily. He sets about establishing a resolutely regular life, scrubbing his own back and buying his own groceries. Watching the king break all the rules will tickle youngsters; the king puts a "For Sale" sign on his royal carriage, whistles in public, gives his robe and crown to the prime minister and dreams out on his balcony. Not even taunts from the neighbors can discourage him—"Ha, ha, he calls himself a king! But he has absolutely nothing... He is a nothing king!" "I have a rabbit, a pansy, and a balcony in the sun," he says. "How can you call that nothing!" Gerritsen's pastel and gouache full-bleed spreads depict animal characters with stylized features and droll expressions, and her delicate charcoal lines and nuanced color choices give depth to the images. The message that happiness means more than wealth is a familiar one, but having a king deliver it gives the message a little extra oomph. Ages 2-6. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 11/01/2004
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