________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 35. . . .May 13, 2016


Mr. King’s Machine. (Mr. King).

Geneviève Côté.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2016.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-77138-021-8.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Meredith Cleversey.

***½ /4



Mr. King likes flowers. He likes that they smell good and look pretty.

So when he discovers one that has been chewed by a caterpillar, he is NOT happy.

He quickly builds himself a Caterpillar-Catcher.

Mr. King likes machines, too.


Mr. King likes flowers, but he does not like the caterpillars who eat the flowers’ petals. To stop his flowers from being destroyed, Mr. King decides to create a machine to capture the bothersome caterpillars. Little does he realize, but his machine leaves a trail of smoke behind it, annoying his friends and filling the air with smog. Once Mr. King discovers his mistake, he changes his invention into a wind machine that clears away the smoke and scatters flower seeds everywhere.

     Mr. King’s Machine is the third “Mr. King” story written and illustrated by Geneviève Côté, with the first two being Mr. King's Things and Mr. King’s Castle. In this tale, Mr. King decides to build a machine to stop caterpillars from eating the flowers he likes so much. He is so focussed on catching the caterpillars, however, he doesn’t even notice his machine blowing smoke into the air and trampling the very flowers he’s trying to save. His friends, annoyed by his creation, inform Mr. King that not only is he ruining the land with his invention, he’s also trying to capture perfectly harmless creatures. After all, the caterpillars will eventually become butterflies, and butterflies help make the flowers grow.

     The “Mr. King” stories are simple tales with light environmental themes. In this case, Mr. King makes a mistake that pollutes his home and irritates his friends. Once he realizes the error of his ways, he rectifies the problem by creating a wind machine to blow the smoke away and scatter flower seeds all over the hillside where he and his friends reside. While the solution is a little too quick and easy (it would have perhaps been better to see Mr. King and his friends working together over a lengthier period of time to clear away the pollution and grow new flowers), the lessons Mr. King learns, both about taking care of his own surroundings and about the nourishing balance of nature, are valuable. And as always, Côté’s illustrations are bright and colourful, with her combination of sketched characters, interesting patterns, and a wonderful sense of texture in the cut-out design of the vibrant landscape.

     Mr. King’s Machine is a cute story with delightful illustrations and a straightforward message about being mindful of the earth and respecting the creatures who inhabit it.

Highly Recommended.

Meredith Cleversey, a librarian in Cambridge, ON, loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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