The Nothing King

The Nothing King

by Elle van Lieshout, Elle Van Lieshout, Paula Gerritsen, Erik Van Os
     
 

When King Bear moves out of the royal palace to live in a shabby apartment, people laugh and call him a "nothing king."  But the king likes putting on his own cozy pajamas himself, without any servants help. He doesn't need a big fancy horse-drawn carriage. All he needs is a small balcony, the sun, the sounds of the city, and a pot of pansies to tend

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Overview

When King Bear moves out of the royal palace to live in a shabby apartment, people laugh and call him a "nothing king."  But the king likes putting on his own cozy pajamas himself, without any servants help. He doesn't need a big fancy horse-drawn carriage. All he needs is a small balcony, the sun, the sounds of the city, and a pot of pansies to tend.  While the townsfolk laugh at their nothing king, he laughs back at their folly.  He knows that "nothing" is all he needs.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This Dutch team tells a fable about a runaway king, who is happiest in humbler surroundings, with warmth and economy. The front endpapers show the big brown ursine monarch in an ermine robe, facing a pile of documents in despair. On the title page, he drives his own royal carriage away from the castle to an apartment building in town. "Why, Your Majesty,...Where are your servants?" says the landlord. "Not here," says the king happily. He sets about establishing a resolutely regular life, scrubbing his own back and buying his own groceries. Watching the king break all the rules will tickle youngsters; the king puts a "For Sale" sign on his royal carriage, whistles in public, gives his robe and crown to the prime minister and dreams out on his balcony. Not even taunts from the neighbors can discourage him-"Ha, ha, he calls himself a king! But he has absolutely nothing... He is a nothing king!" "I have a rabbit, a pansy, and a balcony in the sun," he says. "How can you call that nothing!" Gerritsen's pastel and gouache full-bleed spreads depict animal characters with stylized features and droll expressions, and her delicate charcoal lines and nuanced color choices give depth to the images. The message that happiness means more than wealth is a familiar one, but having a king deliver it gives the message a little extra oomph. Ages 2-6. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This unusual tale of royal abdication may speak more clearly to adults than to most children. King Bear moves from his palace to an upstairs apartment on the edge of town. There he takes great pleasure in living without servants, doing everything by himself from bathing and shopping to taking his rabbit for a walk in the park. Even the queen cannot persuade him to return to the palace. Despite the jeers of the people as they call him the "nothing king," he feels that he has almost everything he needs or wants. And when the queen arrives with her luggage to join him, he is truly content. The visual narrative begins on the front end-papers depicting a very sad-faced king on a throne confronting a massive pile of papers. The title page shows him driving his carriage through the fields with the castle wall behind him. The text begins when he arrives "at the outskirts of town" and lets the carriage go. The colored drawings are full of human feelings and values. In a few animated scenes, assorted anthropomorphic but unclothed animals contentedly go about their lives. But mainly it is the king, getting down to basic living, smiling all the way, particularly on the back end-papers, where he and his wife smile at each other across the pages in bed. 2004, Front Street/Lemniscaat, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Kirkus Reviews
A message-laden treatise on the joys of the simple life that lacks context and child appeal. King Bear has left his castle (and his queen). He settles happily into a small apartment and divests himself of his carriage, robes and responsibilities. When the Queen arrives to discuss the situation, the King declines to return to the palace-and when his neighbors mock him, he simply laughs. While adults who share King Bear's disdain for power and wealth will admire his choices, children will more likely be bewildered by his decision to reject responsibility and ignore peer pressure. Gerritsen's illustrations, most in soft tones of green and brown, suit the low-key story well and offer amusing asides, such as the king's pet rabbit's budding romance with a shy new friend. Children may enjoy tracking this relationship, which is never mentioned in the text, but neither this charming detail nor the happy ending (the Queen joins her husband) can compensate for a not-very-child-friendly plot. (Picture book. 6-8)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781932425147
Publisher:
Boyds Mills Press
Publication date:
10/14/2004
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.68(w) x 11.28(h) x 0.32(d)
Age Range:
1 - 6 Years

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