A clever tale about a king searching for a new cook, The Cook and the King is a fun book that will entertain kids and parents alike. It’s a sort of modern fairy tale about a hungry king who befriends a wimpy cook who pushes him towards self-sufficiency… except he doesn’t seem to realize it. There are silly rhymes, repeated phrases that even the youngest readers will be able to anticipate, and awesome illustrations by David Roberts (who my kids love from Rosie Revere, Engineer and friends).
The story begins with the hungry king searching for a cook who can up with his very specific demands. Cooks have come from all over and yet they can never quite live up to his expectations. Then comes ‘Wobbly Bob.’ He’s afraid of everything and not much help with, well, anything. But he’s up for the job if the king will give him a chance!
This sets in motion the bulk of The Cook and the King‘s story where Wobbly Bob, rather than doing the tasks the king asks of him, is too scared to do any of it. “I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m terribly scared!” he’ll cry. The King, however, is happy to help and steps up to do everything needed to make fish and chips – from catching fish to digging up and cutting up potatoes and more.
By the end of the book the king manages to cook up his very own meal – all the while attributing it to Wobbly Bob without realizing his own royal potential!
It’s funny to see how the king keeps taking step after step to prepare and cook his meal all by himself. While the king may think he’s instructing Bob, in reality he’s showing just how capable he is himself. Kids will laugh as Bob keeps getting way with minimal work with all the recognition and the king continues to prove that he knows exactly what to do to make himself his own meals. My five year old thought it was hilarious. My twelve year wanted to face palm by the end at the king’s silliness.
I didn’t realize that David Roberts illustrated The Cook and the King the first time we read through it but I should have known immediately. I loved the character designs and loved the blend of older, fancier dress and modern, classy chef’s dress among the characters. That odd blend exists throughout the story – after all, the king is making fish and chips and is at another point seen eating pizza and other modern dishes! But David Roberts makes it all work.
We loved The Cook and the King. It’s a really fun read that will have kids laughing at the king (and Wobbly Bob) and their antics. Parents will want to clarify for kids who don’t quite grasp the ending about the king and his obliviousness. But over all it’s a great story time tale and it would be a perfect way to end the day at bed time.