cover image In a Small Kingdom

In a Small Kingdom

Tomie dePaola, illus. by Doug Salati. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4814-9800-5

It is long ago, in a place “along an ancient road.” The beloved old king has died, and the young prince is chosen to assume the throne. Though the prince is young and shy—and not much older than some in this book’s target audience—he is thoughtful and gentle. “All agreed that the kingdom would be in good hands,” writes dePaola. But the legendary imperial robe has gone missing, and everyone in the kingdom believes this “remarkable garment” gives the king magical powers to protect them. An evil plot is afoot—can it be thwarted? Debut illustrator Salati, a former Sendak fellow, works with the assurance of a seasoned pro; his illustrations, rendered in delicately textured pencil and earth-toned digital color, combine an old-fashioned sense of setting and character with a contemporary approach to casting (the kingdom is matter-of-factly multicultural, and the king’s chief counselor is a woman). With its themes of ingenuity, generosity, and the enduring power of community, the story is a lovely and pointedly relevant tribute to those who truly confer legitimacy on any leader: the people. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Doug Whiteman, Whiteman Agency. (Apr.)