Review – Grumpy Little King

Once there was a grumpy little king. He was always grumpy – every day and all day long – because he was tired of being a little ruler in a little nation. He wanted to be a big ruler in a big nation.

His advisers knew just what to do. Start a war. If the king started a war, he could become world-famous, and his country would soon expand.

The grumpy little king loved the idea. He called his general and amassed lots of big guns and tanks and planes and explosives. Then he recruited bakers and farmers and builders and turned them into soldiers. Then he picked an ememy – the lanky king – and packed his men off to war.

The grumpy king’s men faced the lanky king’s men on the battlefield. Guns were drawn, they were ready to fight – but wait! Hang on a second! Where was the grumpy little king? Why, there he was – at home in his palace, sipping a nice cup of tea!

‘Not on your life!’ thought the soldiers, who gathered up both their kings, stood them in front of each other, gave them guns and then packed up their gear and went home.

Can you imagine what the kings decide to do?

After working as an illustrator in London for several years, German-born Michel Streich moved to Sydney in 2000. He has been published in several formats and has an inherent passion for human rights – a characteristic that becomes more than apparent in this thinly-veiled tale of madness.

Clever, witty, biting, funny, sad and flagrantly showcasing the ridiculousness of war, Streich has hit every mark with this beautifully-written picture book, which will appeal to both the very young and the very old. Featuring illustrations so charming you want to gobble them up on toast, Grumpy Little King is a classic in the making. It’s also important.

Grumpy Little King is published by Allen & Unwin. You can learn more about Michel’s work here.