Review Blog

Oct 28 2011

Grumpy little king by Michel Streich

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2011. ISBN 9781 74237 572 4.
(Ages 7+) Recommended. Picture book. When the little king is bored, he becomes grumpier than usual. He tries golf, walking the dog, buying clothes, going for a drive, but nothing satisfies him. When his advisors ask him why he is grumpy, he tells them that it is because he is a little king in charge of a little nation. The advisors advise to make war upon another nation, and in that way he would become a big nation and world famous. So he takes their advice, calls for the general to make plans, declares war on his cousin in the next country and waits. Meanwhile, a great deal of money is spent arming the nation - soldiers are trained and ceremonies put into place to thrill the populace.
But once war is happening, the soldiers ask why their king is nowhere to be seen, and on scouring the nation, both sides find their kings a long way behind the fighting. The two are dragged to the front, where they refuse to fight each other, and so the soldiers disperse and go home. Once back in his palace, the little king is grumpy all over again, but this time, nobody cares.
A delightful book extolling the virtues of peace and understanding, of making love not war, of not following the machinations of those in power who are only out to engrandise themselves, this funny book should be read and reread by all politicians, every night. It is a marvellously funny book to read aloud to a class, to use as an introduction to a unit on war and peace, to have in the classroom at all times, to have when talking to students about fighting and bullying. It would be a wonderful companion to The duck in the gun by Joy Crowley, reprinted in 2009, 25 years after its first appearance.
Fran Knight

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