Sunday, April 20, 2014
King Pig by Nick Bland
The most interesting character in King Pig has no name and almost no voice. If you look very closely you will see the tip of his little jester hat just above the grass as he walks behind his King. On the next page we see a little more of the King with his sheep crook and a tiny corner of the page you can see that same hat some distance back from the King who is approaching his castle. On the first page all is revealed. The King has forced his subjects - the sheep - to make a bridge from planks strapped to their backs. This servitude combined with the haughty demeanor of King Pig himself certainly sets the tone and relationship between King Pig and his subjects - the sheep. Our tiny hero is also a sheep but he will be allowed to enter the castle contrary to the sign above the castle door.
Once inside our faithful little friend prepares a delicious hot dog lunch for his master but King Pig is far more interested in those sheep who never seem to listen and worse who seem to make fun of him. King Pig is a bully so he commands the sheep to wash his castle in the middle of the night "but he just couldn't make them like him."
Just like the Emperor in the famous fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, King Pig decides he needs new and fancier clothes. Again it is the middle of the night but he summons the sheep and puts them to work dyeing and knitting the new fancy clothes. Yes the new outfits are indeed spectacular but still his subjects are not impressed. "What do I have to do to make you like me!"
King Pig does feel remorse but the ending is certainly open to further discussion. Make sure you take time to notice the hats, the topiary trees outside the castle, the tent used as a shelter by the freezing sheep and the television antenna on top of the castle.
Here are some teaching notes. You might also discuss the double meaning in the title. Here is a detailed review. This book has been short listed for our CBCA Awards for 2014.