Book Review: Mr. King’s Castle

29 Sep

Today’s book review is for Mr. King’s Castle, by Genevieve Cote, published by Kids Can Press. I received an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Mr. King is an adorable cat who lives on top of a beautiful hill. One day, he decides that he wants to build himself a big castle. So, he begins to cut apart the hill for blocks to build his castle. But soon, his friends and neighbors discover what he’s done and become very upset with him. When Mr. King realizes his mistake, everyone pitches in to help put things to right.

Genevieve Cote writes a charming story to which children will surely relate. Her prose is simple and clear, perfect for a toddler audience. I love the message that sometimes our big ideas don’t always work out as well as we had imagined–but it’s alright to realize our mistakes and fix things. Children will make many mistakes in their lifetimes; it’s to be expected. The important thing is to learn how to fix those mistakes and put things to right. Cote also manages to touch on themes of greediness and common goods without ever seeming heavy handed in her moralizing. I appreciate that the friends and neighbors never yell at Mr. King or call him names, instead, he is able to recognize on his own that he is the cause of their frustration.

Cote’s mixed media illustrations are great fun. The animal inhabitants of the hill are hand drawn and quite cute. Composed of simple lines and gentle shading, they still have a great feeling of life about them. It’s the landscape of the hill that I most enjoyed, though. Cote uses actual paper to create the hill–and then physically cuts it up to create the blocks for Mr. King’s house. It’s a clever technique, one that I think will help children to really understand that Mr. King is, quite literally, tearing apart the landscape to build his castle. It also adds an element of humor when the woodland animals are left standing on tiny scaps of paper, wondering what happened to their home.

This would make a great selection for story time. The book is designed so that “big” is always in a larger, bold font, while “small” is shrunken down. It’s easy to read the text on the page, so that even a teacher or librarian trying to read upside down while showing the pictures to an audience should have an easy time following the story. There are plenty of opportunities to create character voices or sound effects to have extra fun with the book.

Mr. King’s Castle earns 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a fun book that would make a great addition to any young child’s library. It’s beautifully executed and has a great message.

You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.

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