cover image The King of Little Things

The King of Little Things

Bil Lepp, illus. by David T. Wenzel. Peachtree, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56145-708-3

It’s hard to miss the point of this fable about the kindly King of Little Things (who had “everything he needed, and didn’t want for more”) and his victimization by the ambitious and obnoxious King Normous. Small, Lepp clearly feels, is beautiful. Yet the story doesn’t pall. Lepp revels in exploring the many ways the King of Little Things’ insignificant but loyal subjects serve him, offering help in an early skirmish (“the soldiers found mealworms in their bread, chiggers in their underpants, and fungus between their toes”), then comforting him with crumbs and seeds after he is imprisoned. When the King of Little Things decides he’s had enough, he sends out a plea for all little things to strike: “Boats listed. Words twisted. Lights unlit. Scarves unknit. And every little thing, everywhere, refused to work.” Wenzel delivers Mad magazine–style spreads of medieval feasts, battles, capes, and crowns. Brainy wordplay abounds, and a scavenger hunt is included, too. Lepp affirms living simply without sounding smarmy, and Wenzel offers a king whose underpants fall off. What’s not to like? Ages 4–8. (Sept.)