The saddest king ISBN: 9780224070454
Published by Jonathan Cape, 2007
In a country where being happy is compulsory - by order of the King - the people smile all day long, even when dinner is burnt, they fall and bump their heads, or it rains. A small boy is found crying, and as he is inconsolable, he must go before the King to be punished. The King, the happiest person of all in the kingdom, is dumbfounded. What reason does the little boy have to be sad? And why does he WANT to be sad? The boy had a dog, who was 'the best dog in the world', and he misses him terribly since he has died. At this, the King begins to wobble, and the boy discovers his smiling face is a mask. The King also had a beloved dog whom he misses dreadfully, and his country-wide decree has been an attempt to banish misery forever. Once the King and the little boy have talked about their happy memories of their pets and had a little cry because they still miss them, the King realises it's all right to be sad sometimes and revokes his decree. The pretence is over, and everyone has a good cry! The pictures, peasants in a medieval-style village, are warm and lovable - particularly the dogs - and as a parable of the right of every person to feel sadness, it works very well.