Review of His Royal Highness, King Baby: A Terrible True Story

His Royal Highness, King Baby: A Terrible True Story
by Sally Lloyd-Jones; illus. by David Roberts
Primary    Candlewick    48 pp.
9/17    978-0-7636-9793-8    $16.99

“Once upon a time, there was a Happy Family” consisting of a mother, father, daughter (shown with tights on her head simulating long, blonde, princess-y hair), and pet gerbil. Life was grand until “one horrible, NOT NICE day, when a new ruler was born.” The newly minted big sister describes, in a classic-fairy-tale narrative style, the havoc wreaked by her demanding baby brother. Even better, she draws the story as she sees it, in entertaining childlike illustrations that mirror — and some-times humorously deviate from — Roberts’s watercolor and pen art showing the book’s true events. (Though Roberts, too, gets cheeky with his imagery — see the picture of King Baby as Louis XIV.) The stylish illustrations situate the story in the 1960s/1970s, with bell-bottoms and groovy patterns and prams and wicker chairs; this combined with the author’s and illustrator’s dedications (respectively: “To Siân, my baby sister” and “For my mum and her baby brother”) points to the possibility that the tale is at least semi-autobiographical. And while it’s true that a new baby can be a royal pain in the bum, the princess eventually learns that having a doting little playmate has its benefits. Pair with Kate Beaton’s King Baby (no relation).

From the November/December 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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