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The King Who Wouldn’t Sleep by D. Singleton

Singleton, Debbie. The King Who Wouldn’t Sleep. Illus. Holly Swain. London: Anderson Press, 2012. Print.

The King featured in this fairytale picture book is a man on a mission. He refuses to nod off until he finds the perfect mate for his lovely daughter, so he interviews a long line of princes, but of course “not one of them was quite perfect”. The illustrations of princes in all shapes and sizes are highly amusing, and the prince with the “extraordinary mustache” is especially charming. Despite the King’s indifference to this motley crew, the princes refuse to give up, so they decide that the only way to talk to the princess is to make the King fall asleep. They present him with sleeping potions, stuffed animals, blankets, bedtime stories, and every imaginable soporific gift, but the King will not be deceived; indeed, he gives everything to his servants, who immediately fall asleep, leaving no one in the palace to cook his dinner.  Princes continue to come and go but no one makes the cut. A young farmer witnesses all the comings and goings and decides to approach the King with successive gifts of farm animals, but the King shoos him away at every turn. That is, until the farmer returns with an entire flock of sheep and encourages the King to count them to ensure that all one hundred are present and accounted for. Presto! The King finally falls asleep. Everyone is impressed with the clever farmer, especially the princess, and so they get married, have a magnificent wedding, and live happily ever after. The comical story, complemented by cheerful illustrations, provides plenty of entertainment for young readers.

Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Robert Desmarais

Robert Desmarais is Head of Special Collections at the University of Alberta and Managing Editor of The Deakin Review of Children’s Literature. A graduate of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information Studies, with a Book History and Print Culture designation, he also has university degrees in English literature and publishing. He has been collecting and enjoying children’s books for as long as he can remember.