KING MATT is a fable set in the 1920's. Matt is a young boy who becomes the king of a European country when his parents, the king and queen, die. Matt is, most importantly, a child, with all the idealism and ignorance, good intentions and lack of understanding, simplicity and guilelessness which that entails. Though at first he is content, if not very happy, to take lessons from his tutor and do as the government Ministers advise, he soon begins, as any child might, to think that he can do better, especially for the children of his country.
When three foreign countries invade, Matt is thrilled, romantically imagining himself on a white horse leading his soldiers into battle. When he realizes that the Ministers don't even plan to tell him that a war has begun, much less let him lead it, he sneaks off to the front. There, unrecognized, he begins his real education, as he sees what war is really like. But it is only the beginning, for in ending the war, taking control of his government, and instituting a series of reforms, the inadequacy of his knowledge and understanding of the world, of economics, politics, geography, and consequences is made manifest.
Yet despite all of this, he means well, tries hard, learns quickly, and has some successes. Some of his ideas, like giving every kid in the country candy, are silly and childish, but others, like building camps in the countryside where poor children can spend the summer, are more enlightened and practical. His reforms become increasingly grandiose, with destructive consequences which he does not anticipate, and he is increasingly betrayed by the guile and deviousness of the adults who plot his downfall. But though all of his efforts and trials, his sense of responsibility and his simple nobility shine in contrast to the machinations and selfishness of some, though not all, of the adults with whom he has to deal.