King of Capri

King of Capri

by Jeanette Winterson, Jane Ray, Chuck Yungkurth

The King of Capri is so greedy that he wishes he had two mouths with which to feed himself. Meanwhile, across the bay in the city of Naples, the washerwoman Mrs. Jewel barely manages to feed herself and her very skinny cat. But one night a great wind blows in and carries everything away from the King's castle, towards Naples, and into Mrs. Jewel's yard. The King is

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The King of Capri is so greedy that he wishes he had two mouths with which to feed himself. Meanwhile, across the bay in the city of Naples, the washerwoman Mrs. Jewel barely manages to feed herself and her very skinny cat. But one night a great wind blows in and carries everything away from the King's castle, towards Naples, and into Mrs. Jewel's yard. The King is left alone and forlorn as everyone leaves Capri to visit the generous Mrs. Jewel, who has become the Queen of Naples. When he goes to make this new queen's acquaintance, the King of Capri and the Queen of Naples fall in love and they have nothing left to wish for.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
Winterson's fairy tale is not revisionist; it seems only attractively new and, especially with Ray's illustrations, freshly washed. — Mary Harris Russell
Publishers Weekly
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.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Once, when Capri was a kingdom, the greedy, very selfish king never thought about the poor people who lived in Naples across the bay. This tale begins when the king hangs his dirty clothes on his balcony. That night a Wind arrives to cause much mischief. For example, along with everything else loose, it blows the king's clothes into the yard of a poor, hard-working washerwoman named Mrs. Jewel and her cat. Suddenly she is rich, and has clothes fit for a queen. Treated as a queen by the people, she hands out both advice and money, for she has the king's treasure chest as well. The king is left alone on Capri; everything he owned has been blown away. When he visits Mrs. Jewel, she realizes that everything belongs to him and is ready to return it. The king sees how selfish he has been and how good she is. He asks her to marry him, for a happy ending. Ray serves up all sorts of details for this modified morality play as fairy tale. We see the king's favorite foods, the seaside village with busy people, Mrs. Jewel hard at work, and of course the sky full of flying objects including bits of Italian on paper, all painted in a decorative, stylized fashion with a multitude of patterns. The flavor of the Naples area comes through as well. 2003, Bloomsbury Children's Books, Ages 4 to 8.
— Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Library Journal
PreS-Gr 4-The gluttonous King of Capri bemoans the fact that he has "two hands but only one mouth." His advisor reminds him that his impoverished subjects can barely feed one. As bedtime approaches, the monarch, clad only in socks and a crown, hangs his food-stained clothes on the wash line. Meanwhile, across the bay in Naples, a poor washerwoman shares her meager dinner with her cat. That night the wind wreaks havoc and fortunes shift as objects are buffeted from the island to the city. The roles are reversed and the contrast between generosity and greed are made abundantly clear. Ray uses a sunlit Mediterranean palette to depict clustered port dwellings. The deeper shades of the aquamarine sea and sky heighten the brightness of the warm colors. The artist employs a variety of papers, a range of brush techniques, and miniature gold details to decorate the scenes, creating the rich layering of cloth and textures found in a palace or laundry. All's well that ends well, and a harmonious balance is achieved for both characters. With its selfish king, heart-of-gold laborer, and preponderance of fabrics, the story is reminiscent of Jeff Brumbeau's The Quiltmaker's Gift (Pfeifer-Hamilton, 1999). Predictable, but visually quite special.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Adult author Winterson turns her hand to the reworking of a whimsical Italian folktale. The King of Capri goes to a party and eats all of his favorite foods, wondering why he has two hands, but only one mouth. He gets kind of sloppy so he hangs all his finery out on the line (he doesn't know you have to wash them first). A great wind comes up and blows the king's stuff across from the island of Capri to the city of Naples. The tiny washerwoman Mrs. Jewel washes and puts on the king's clothes, and distributes his goods across Naples, while the king of Capri learns that if he had two mouths he would be twice as hungry. When he swallows his pride and rows across the bay, Mrs. Jewel's cat Wash tells the whole story of the wind, the king proposes to Mrs. Jewel, and everyone's happy. A few Italian phrases are used and translated (by the cat), and the story has a deeply Italian sensibility. Ray's incredible artwork includes elements of collage and a brilliant piling on of pattern and detail, eminently suited to the tale. (Folktale. 5-8)

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Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.62(w) x 12.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Jeanette Winterson is a novelist whose honors include England's Whitbread Award and the American Academy's E.M. Forster Award. With her debut in the early eighties, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, she soon won the praise of such masters as Gore Vidal ("the most interesting young writer I have read in twenty years"). She lives in London and the Costwolds.

Illustrator: Jane Ray has illustrated many wonderful books for children including Twelve Dancing Princesses. She lives in the UK.

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