Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Snow Queen (er, KING): King Alice by Matthew Cordell


It's not a sled-and-snowball, snow-for-Christmas snow day. It's an icy, slippy, sloshy, slushy snow day where everyone has to stay inside.

It's a unscheduled official pajama day for everyone in the family--Burpy Baby, Frumpy Bun-on-Top-of-Head Mom, and, of course, Grizzled, Itchy, Yawny Dad, who does not want a sparkly-strawberry cupcake party breakfast with Queen King Alice (because he's been to that party and cleaned up after it). He also passes on another Super-Duper Make Dad Prettyday. (Don't ask.)

Then King Alice has a brainstorm.

"Let's make...a... book! About King Alice the First! A-a-a-n-d the royal brave knights!"

Dad is anointed as Royal Illustrator. But King Alice's inspiration fails after their royal breakfast, a tad messy around the mouth, especially Burpy Baby's, so the King declares...The End.

Dad's off the hook until she re-imagines the knights sipping at a PRINCESS TEA PARTY. All the knights are seated at their Round Table. It's all royal fun, until....

"Okay. I'm bored now."

King Alice decrees Chapter 2 is done with a walk away. Dad exhales, until...

"Chapter 5!" King Alice suddenly announced.

"What happened to chapters 3 and 4?" Dad wondered pointlessly.

After Chapter 5 (Pirate Party), King Alice is too fatigued to be creative and repairs to her television-viewing throne, where her imaginative juices are restored by an episode starring that ever-popular mythical, mystical beast, and the King declares there will be a ...



In the ensuing melee', Dad sustains a unicorn horn wound, and King Alice is banished to the Time-Out Throne, with only the cat as her equerry, until she issues a repentant proclamation.

"I am so, so, so, so, so sorry I bonked you with my unicorn, Daddy. You are funny and nice and you draw good... and will you play with me now, Daddy?"

And after a c-a-a-l-m-down dinner and bath for Burpy Baby and the King, all's well that smell's well, and with yet more snow falling outside the windows, the weary head who wears the crown is almost drowsing off, when an IDEA comes for tomorrow....


It's a funny and familiar tale of snowed-in togetherness, in his latest, King Alice (Feiwel and Friends, 2018) with Matthew Cordell's familiar scratchy-styled comic illustrations capturing the mess and moods of family life in a sweet and loving snow day in the life of a young family. Cordell, 2018 Caldecott Medal winner for Wolf in the Snow (see review here), admits to a fondness for stories about family and an affinity for the sketchy illustrative styles of Jules Feiffer, William Steig, and Quentin Blake, and this style is well suited for the untidy saga of King Alice, who inexplicably harps on neatness and definitely dotes on her daddy. Cordell's stories have insight and delightfully detailed illustrations that will give youngsters a lot to seek and discover on each busy page.

Says Publishers Weekly, "Readers will treasure their time with Alice's father, who allows his daughter to be exactly who she is, and King Alice, who leads her family on adventures even when they don't leave the house."

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