King Pig by Nick Bland

cover image

Scholastic, 2013. ISBN 9781 74283 495 5
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Picture book. Power. Kingship. A salutary tilt at the misuse of power, Nick Bland's comic tale is of a king worried about his subjects not liking him, trying different means to gain their sympathy but failing miserably. Bland shows the king in all his majesty, strutting around the kingdom in his rich clothes, a small sheep holding his train. King Pig is pompous, high handed and besotted with appearance. He has the sheep, his subjects, clean the castle walls, he has them strap boards to their backs so he can walk over them without getting his dainty feet dirty, he unfurls a huge portrait of himself, but all to no avail, they simply do not like him. Disturbed by this he invites them into his castle and then in the most amazing contraption, dyes their coats, strips them of their wool and has them knit him some new clothes, while he sleeps. The next day sees him strut around in the most fantastic of clothes, resplendent, rich and brightly coloured. But still the now bare sheep ignore him. It is up to his little servant to point out the error of his ways to create a neat conclusion.
This is a charming story beautifully illustrated and presented, offering a funny tale for younger readers, a fantastic book to read aloud, and with a theme which is universal in its application at home and in the classroom. For younger readers being introduced to the idea of government with its array of presentations around the world, this book would make a great opening to the theme.
Bland's illustrations are wonderful, from the king sized word, KING, emblazoned across the cover and title page, to the little jokes hidden in the pages to the expressions on the faces of the sheep, all is a delight to look at again and again. Watch out for the pig shaped topiary and the No pigs sign above the drawbridge, the King's feet, and the bath used at the end for dying the wool. All is glorious. Children will not help but spy the differences between the king's lifestyle and that of his subjects and this will engender even more conversation amongst the readers.
Fran Knight