Recommended for readers 3-7
This fairy tale about two kings living happily ever after is a classic. When I still worked in the publishing industry, I was a marketer on the InsightOut Book Club, and we were all thrilled to see a book for kids. We hadn’t seen one since 1989’s Heather Has Two Mommies, by Lesleá Newman, and 1990’s Daddy’s Roommate, by Michael Willhoite. For someone to write a book letting explaining that love is love to kids made my fairly new mom (I was pregnant with my second at the time) heart beat even more happily. Originally published in The Netherlands in 2000, King & King arrived on American shores in 2003. A crown prince lives with his mother, the queen, and their crown kitty; the queen is getting tired, though, and wants her son to get married already, so he can become king and she can finally retire. She’s had it with his stalling: she wakes him up and lets him know how it’s going to go; the prince reluctantly agrees to meet some potential spouses. It doesn’t really go well. The crown kitty seems to be having a blast, performing along with the princesses, but the prince is pretty miserable: until the last princess walks in, escorted by her brother. BAM! It’s love at first sight between the two princes. The two marry, the queen retires, and King & King live happily ever after, sharing a kiss (obscured by a heart over the joining of their mouths) at the end.
King & King is a celebration of love, versed as a fairy tale to make it extra child-friendly to 2003 audiences, but it still holds up today. The mixed media artwork is colorful, even a touch chaotic, giving readers plenty of little details to wander the pages for: Crown Kitty is always up to something; rocket, hot air balloons, and planes fly through the sky; an explosion of hearts herald the meeting of the princes. The character drawings look almost childlike, increasing the appeal to kids. The couple’s adventures continue in 2004’s King & King & Family.
King & King received a starred review from Kirkus, and was on the ALA’s Top 10 List of Most Challenged Books in 2003 and 2004. Read more about the challenges to the book here.