CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 32. . . .April 18, 2014
King Pig rules over a kingdom of sheep in a selfish manner. He abuses his power in every way imaginable, forcing the sheep to cater to his every whim. Despite his actions, King Pig is genuinely ignorant of why the sheep dislike him. The louder he shouts, and the more fanciful he acts, the more the sheep ignore him. After a particularly bad idea—forcing the sheep to use their own wool to knit him a new wardrobe under the pretense that he’d be more likable if he were more fashionable—he asks, with total resignation, why don’t they like him? One little sheep speaks up and suggests that King Pig could try being nice. This sets the king on a new trajectory, as he feels remorseful for the first time in his life. He sets his sights on making things right, and in the morning he presents the sheep with a thoughtful gift.
Nick Bland’s King Pig is a delightful tale with a traditional feel and a moral at the end. Unlike his “Very…Bear” series, Bland opts not to use a rhyming structure in this one, and it works to the book’s advantage. The pacing works wonderful for a read-aloud, with cliffhanger sentences compelling you to continue flipping the pages. The colour palate is used in an interesting way; dark browns and greys and thatched sketches highlight King Pig’s unlikeableness, while bright greens and fresh whites surround the sheep. The cartoon style images take up every page and help to add depth to the story.
The best part of this story is the moral. We are often faced with tales of redemption in which the antagonist is fully rewarded for a single act of repentance after years, or at least pages, of cruelties. When King Pig finally realizes his behaviour has been wrong and works all night to make a gesture of apology, the sheep are appreciative but not completely won over. The book ends with the sense of a new beginning. His gift is described as a “good start” because the sheep are open to forgiving the king, but they are not too quick to forget his past trespasses. Sometimes, our actions cannot be fully annulled by one grand gesture, and I commend Bland for demonstrating that it can be a journey to forgiveness. With King Pig, Nick Bland has created a simple story full of humour and heart.
Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.
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