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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
King and the Sea (The)
by Heinz Janisch
Age Range: 6-8
The King and the Sea contains 21 short philosophical tales about a little king in a big world by internationally award-winning Austrian writer Heinz Janisch.
The king encounters many things in the universe and Janish gently pokes fun at the king’s arrogant assumption of power that he feels he has over everything. In each story, the king learns something either about himself, or about the world: from the shadow he learns that there are two sides to everything; the Trumpet teaches him about cooperation; the Cat shows him how to enjoy the simple things in life such as the sun on his body and the snow how much pleasure there is in seeing a blanket of white covering the ground.
‘“I don’t believe in ghosts”, said the king.
“I don’t believe in kings”, said the ghost.
“Then one of us must be mistaken”, said the king.
“So it seems”, said the ghost, spiriting himself away.’
The philosophical element of each tale questioning everything mirrors a child’s inquisitiveness about the world that surrounds them. As simple and sparse in text as they first appear, each story conveys some sort of message – that everything plays an important part in the universe. Celebrated German illustrator Wolf Erlbruch provides delightfully humorous child-like illustrations that are so expressive. The King and the Sea has all the ingredients of a classic and adults will certainly enjoy dipping into this book as much as children because it can be read again and again.