Sunday, December 1, 2013

30 Days of Picture Books - The Tiny King by Taro Miura

It's Day 23 in our 30 Days of Picture Books. Hopefully you've found some new titles to read this past three weeks. We certainly have, and we continue to explore more authors and illustrators who are unfamiliar to us, as well as our old standbys. I'm fortunate to work at a day job that gives me near-constant exposure to picture books. But if you don't have that luxury, blogs like Pragmatic Mom, What Do We Do All Day?, Delightful Children's Books, Growing Book by Book and Jen Robinson's Book Page are all terrific sources for awesome new picture book finds, just to name a few.

Tonight's pick is one that I probably never would have noticed but for the fact that it came across my desk. I'm so glad it did, because Taro Miura's The Tiny King is a powerhouse of a concept book. It's a fantastic choice for even the littlest readers, because visually it's quite stimulating, with its primary colors and blocky bold artwork. And the simplicity of the story means it works for a wide age range, with different points to explore with readers at different stages.

The Tiny King (pictured actual size on the cover of the book) lives a very lonely life. He's got a big house, a big table and a big bed, but no one to keep him company except his army of soldiers. Then one day the Tiny King meets a Big Princess and falls in love. Marriage soon follows and suddenly the Tiny King finds his household bustling with the addition of 10 children! Now the house isn't too big, the table of food is easily consumed, and everyone sleeps better at night all snuggled up together in the big, big bed.

The use of color and shape are quite dynamic in The Tiny King. Miura contrasts the Tiny King's lonely state at the beginning of the book, marked by black backgrounds, with his blossoming as a family comes into his life. Then the color palette shifts abruptly, with brights and pastels the order of the day. Each spread is more and more joyful, to emphasize how much happier the Tiny King is now, as Sprout pointed out tonight when we read this for about the tenth time. You can't help but smile at the sight of all those adorable kiddos, numbered 1 through 10, cavorting through the previously forlorn castle.

My library has categorized The Tiny King in our concepts area, and it works beautifully there, but don't ignore the depths that the story contains, and the opportunity to talk with kids about life and relationships. This one's a winner for sure - hoping to read more from Miura soon!

The Tiny King by Taro Miura, published by Candlewick Press

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