The King of Quizzical Island


Gently absurd and delightfully entertaining, this rhyming tale of a curious king on a singular search evokes the playful tradition of Edward Lear.


When his wily old Wizard and Whispering Witches can’t answer the ...

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Gently absurd and delightfully entertaining, this rhyming tale of a curious king on a singular search evokes the playful tradition of Edward Lear.


When his wily old Wizard and Whispering Witches can’t answer the king’s question, he makes up his quizzical mind to find out for himself. And so, in a ship made of wood from the Tea-Bag Tree — and despite the fears of his faithful that he’ll fall off the edge — the king sets off on a wondrous adventure across a topsy-turvy world. Fresh, funny, and imaginative black-and-white drawings by David McKee illustrate Gordon Snell’s rhythmic text in a tale that begs to be read aloud.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Wondering what he will find at the edge of the world, the King of Quizzical Island determines to sail there and see. In rollicking verses filled with alliteration, puns, and fun, Snell takes us on the king's remarkable journey. His "singular ship" is made of wood from the Tea-Bag Tree rigged with a spider's web. He lands first in a Jigsaw Land, "all in pieces," which he assembles. He sails up a river to a Vertical Land, where "everything stands on end." He goes on through stormy seas and Dreadful Dreams, arriving at last at a familiar castle. He is back at home, having proved that the world is round. When the Owl doubts his proof, the king decides to prove it again by digging a tunnel and coming out on the other side of the world. "But that is another story." We can anticipate the sharing of that story as fun in the future. McKee's black pen-and-ink line drawings create a quirky cast of characters in comic scenes that parallel the inventive text. There is a childlike innocence in the faux-medieval setting with castles, thrones, and a sailing ship. Only the king has watercolor painted clothing; all else is in sketchy black and white. There's fun throughout, but the scene of the crocodiles standing on their tails is the most amusing. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Having a "most inquisitive mind," the King of Quizzical Island tells his loyal subjects he is going to sail to the edge of the world to see what he can find. Despite their concern for his safety, he is determined to go and builds a ship with wood from a Tea-Bag Tree, rigging made from a spider web, and uses a bumblebee for a rudder. In rhyming text, Snell tells of the king's strange and marvelous adventures in a Jigsaw Land, where everything lay in pieces, in Vertical Land, where everything stands on end, and his watery trials with Hurricane Harriet and the Sea of Dreadful Dreams. One day, he finds himself at his own back door, proving, he tells his cheering followers, that the Earth is, indeed, round. When a doubting Owl suggests that the King might just have been sailing in circles, the monarch, ever upbeat, orders up a 10-foot-wide, diamond-studded spade—in order to dig a tunnel to the other side of the world. That, however, the author tells readers in a surprise ending, "is another story." McKee's lively black-and-white line drawings (only the King is depicted in color) match the mood of this fanciful tale. It's best read aloud where children can participate in elaborating on the King's adventures—or devising new ones for this most curious ruler.—Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA
Kirkus Reviews
It seems that the only one with an inquiring mind on Quizzical Island is the King. In spite of all the doom-and-gloom predictions of his advisors, he is determined to sail to the edge of the world just to see what he can find. It's all about curiosity and determination to seek answers to large questions. The tale is told in verse, employing simple rhymes in four-line stanzas, but Snell also delights the reader with some lovely, sophisticated words and phrases. The king sails on his "singular ship" to a "higgledy-piggeldy shore," and has adventures galore in which he must use ingenuity to solve dilemmas and find his way home, ready to tackle yet another "perilous plan." In McKee's clever, intricate pen-and-ink illustrations, only the king is depicted in watercolors-as it should be, for he is indeed unique. Originally published in England in 1978, it now makes its most welcome debut in the United States. Marvelous fun. (Picture book. 5-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763638573
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 11/10/2009
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 1,283,970
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Gordon Snell has written over seventy books for children and adults and worked as a broadcaster for the BBC. He and his wife, best-selling author Maeve Binchy, live in Dublin, Ireland.

David McKee, the author-illustrator of such classic books as NOT NOW, BERNARD and TUSK TUSK, is perhaps best known as the creator of the beloved children’s characters King Rollo, Mr. Benn, and Elmer the elephant. David McKee lives in Nice, France.

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