Review Blog

Mar 24 2011

The King of Tiny Things by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward

cover image

Puffin, 2009. ISBN: 9780141502380.
Picture book. When two little girls stay with their Nana and Grandad, they are allowed to camp out in a tent in the backyard only to find that, when bed time comes, neither can sleep. The noises of the night keep them both awake. When 'Something mothy crept in through the flap' they were ready to kill it, until it sings them a lullaby, introducing itself as the King of the Tiny Things. Nervously, the girls follow and are introduced to slugs, worms, caterpillars, daddy-long-legs, weevils, grubs, badger cubs and baby bats. When they fall behind the King of Small Things, they get a big shock when they catch up.
This is a delightfully written and illustrated picture book for all children from the very young to those in older classes at school. Its environmental themes are strong enough to provide a good basis for talking about our responsibilities and regeneration in nature, whilst its rhyme and rhythm are gentle and accessible enough to help younger children overcome their fears of the night. The illustrations are similar to some works by both Stephen Michael King and Alison Lester and this title could be used as one in a series of comparative texts as students are encouraged to look at the styles of different illustrators.
Jo Schenkel
Editor's Note: This is on the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal longlist, 2011.

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