The King Who Rained

Book review by
Peter Lewis, Common Sense Media
The King Who Rained Book Poster Image
Pokes gentle fun at an idioms and homonyms.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there is nothing of concern in this book that pokes fun at idioms and homonyms.

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What's the story?

Fred Gwynne's visual puns on some of our language's homonyms and idioms are playful, but they do feel a bit tired: How many times are we going to be able to jump-start a laugh at a fork in the road being pictured as just that? Gwynne's artwork has a slapdash cuteness.

Each two-page spread pokes gentle fun at an idiom, homonym, or word use that runs counter to its literal meaning. Thus we have a reference to a king who rained, a (table) fork in the road, and references to holding up a bridal (locomotive) train, plus a literal frog in the throat, as well as bear feet and foot prince, all turned on their merry heads by Gwynne's direct, comical artwork.

Is it any good?

Gwynne hits on some new material here with tricks of pronunciation, but otherwise he travels over the old terrain of idioms and homonyms that was better mined in Remy Charlip’s books. While repetition can give a book a warm sense of familiarity or a pleasing lilt, or can invite reader participation, here Gwynne's failure to alter his delivery makes the book feel like an endless knock-knock joke: It stifles the text, denies it oxygen.

The artwork, which looks like it was capably knocked off with a set of Magic Markers and some fast handwork, has an easy comfort to it. The illustrations have a 5-year-old's vividness to them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about idioms and homonyms. Find some more examples of each. Talk about the origins of some idioms.

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