The Cook and the King

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Julia Donaldson (text), and David Roberts (illustrator), The Cook and the King, Pan Macmillan, July 2018, 32 pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781509813773

So prolific is world renowned author, Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo), that she has several illustration partnerships working on concurrent releases. Her collaborations with artist David Roberts (Andrea Beaty’s Iggy Peck Architect series) are totally charming. This larger format picture book is a light delight of easy rhyming verse and detailed yet delicate drawings. Roberts bring a fashion designer’s sense of pattern and compositional space to beautiful effect with flavoursome expansion of Donaldson’s text.

A simple story, of an unhappy King seeking a satisfactory Royal Chef, enlarged by imaginative spreads. Lots of cooks apply for the post, I love the jelly/pie/pudding/egg etc tasting page, but the King settles for Wobbly Bob, who is too scared to lift a finger. Bob does however accompany his patron in selecting, preparing and then creating the favoured dish of fish and chips. The king is perfectly happy to do everything himself. Turns out what he really wanted was company.

Reviewed by Liz Anelli

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