cover image Tiny Cedric

Tiny Cedric

Sally Lloyd-Jones, illus. by Rowboat Watkins. Random House/Schwartz, $17.99 (44p) ISBN 978-1-5247-7072-3

Readers’ first look at King Cedric is a comic gem: though his curly red hair fills substantial horizontal space, the howling pink-skinned grump is almost swallowed up by the elaborate Regency sofa on which he sits. And it quickly becomes clear that the monarch is gigantically insecure about his “tiny” stature. He banishes anyone taller than him from the palace, then builds a brick wall to avoid seeing “someone big!” But the diminutive king neglects an important detail: his servants have also been banished, and it turns out that his only remaining subjects—all babies—are simply no help at all. When Cedric enlists one of them to be Royal Dresser, she “just kept undressing herself,” writes Lloyd-Jones (Look! I Wrote a Book! [And You Can Too!]), as Watkins (Mabel: A Mermaid Fable) shows a brown-skinned tot gleefully running away in her birthday suit. Forced into a caretaking role, Cedric slowly softens; eventually, he welcomes his subjects back and happily spends the rest of his days playing with his charges, even when they grow taller than he is. The creators don’t draw a line under their message of self-love and human connection—that work is capably done by the title’s elegantly exaggerated mixed-media illustrations and the sight of a powerful leader squirming under the weight of his own foolishness. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. Illustrator’s agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary. (Feb.)