The King of Little Things

Book review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
The King of Little Things Book Poster Image
Imaginative tale of greedy king has positive messages.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids learn about royalty in the medieval period and the names of a number of small things. The book also encourages readers to identify a host of little things illustrated throughout, with a helpful index to track them all down. 

Positive Messages

The King of Little Things promotes the message that small things matter, often more than we realize. It also teaches lessons about the consequences of greed, and demonstrates characters who are humble in the face of danger.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are very simplistic -- either good or bad -- but this allows for the easy digestion of a moral lesson.

Violence & Scariness

The King of Little Things has some peril. A village is raided, depicted as surrounded by an army with smoke billowing overhead. A king frequently displays an angry expression that could be scary to some young children.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The King of Little Things depicts a greedy king on a quest for universal dominance. There's a bit of sneering anger that could frighten young kids, and some crudeness, such a crew of soldiers who are stricken with toe fungus, but overall the message is a positive one about valuing all things big and small (especially small).

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What's the story?

King Normous wants everything in the kingdom to bow to his power, and he raids all the villages until every last one is within his grasp. But when he finds out about the King of Little Things, who rules all the small things in the land, King Normous figures he's got this one in the bag -- or so he thinks. Along the way he will discover just how important the little stuff is. This is author Bil Lepp's first picture book, and it's illustrated magnificently by Daniel T. Wenzel, who previously illustrated the graphic novel version of The Hobbit.

Is it any good?

This is a clever, imaginative yarn that blends mythology and tall tales to impart an important lesson: Everything has value, and little things often have more power than we give them credit for. With vivid watercolor illustrations that evoke a mystical medieval past (and an almost Grimms'-lite feel), the story reads as larger than life, and the message really pops.

As such, kids who like fantasy and royalty will enjoy the old-fashioned style of this tale, though young kids might find King Normous' anger and bottomless thirst for power a tad frightening. Parents will appreciate the strong message here about generosity and humility.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about greed. Have you ever wanted to have all the things? Why? How did you learn the importance of restraint, or valuing what you already have?

  • Have you ever forgotten about a small thing that turned out to be really important? What was it? What happened?

  • Have you ever dealt with a friend or other child who wanted all of your toys or all of your snack? How did you talk to him or her about it? What was the outcome?

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