Trapani has added another nursery rhyme extension book to her large collection. In this new version, Old King Cole has been up all night planning his yearly ball to be held in the royal hall. When the fiddlers three serenade him with a sweet song, the king falls asleep. Now comes the problem: the ball can’t begin without him. What follows are various nursery rhyme characters’ attempts to wake him up. The rooster, Mother Hubbard and her dog, the three pigs, Little Boy Blue, and Little Bo Peep all try to wake up Old King Cole, to no avail. Will there be no ball? Then in comes the Queen of Hearts with a tray of her freshly baked tarts to save the day. When the yummy aroma reaches the king’s nose, he awakens and the festivities can begin. Trapani’s rhymes are fun, and the language flows well from line to line. Her use of some uncommon words will add to a child’s vocabulary: serenade, desire, hoarse, shrill, and blared. The detailed illustrations, done in watercolor, gouache, ink, and colored pencil, make it easy to pick out the different characters. The back cover of the book lists all the invitees, which allows children to search each page for the various guests. VERDICT With its large and easy-to-see art and rich language, this is a great choice for storytimes and a fun addition to any children’s collection.
–School Library Journal
What can all the characters in Mother Goose’s world do when the reveler in chief runs out of revelry?
Trapani begins with the familiar first verse of the nursery rhyme, with the trio of fiddlers (cats in green tunics walking on two legs) trailing behind the unmistakably merry monarch. But once he settles into his throne, Cole can’t stay awake for the King Cole Ball. Some of his problem is the sweetness of the fiddlers’ serenade, but also his party preparations have simply worn him out. Mother Hubbard and her dog, the Three Little Pigs, Little Boy Blue (depicted with brown skin and curly black hair), and Bo Peep (drawn with Asian facial characteristics) each have a try, but to no avail. All the Mother Goose guests pace the floor in distress, until the Queen of Hearts waltzes in with a tray to save the day. The heavenly aroma of her heart-shaped tarts jolts the king from slumber, and the taste puts him back in a party mood. Trapani’s paintings, in watercolor, Acryla gouache, ink, and colored pencil, are bright and delightful, but they are busy enough that large groups will find distinguishing them a challenge. The story itself is amusing but does not stand out in the Mother Goose crowd. Music and extended lyrics for “Old King Cole” fill the last page.
A pleasant-enough diversion.