The Vole Who Would be King
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Tiny Vole, thought foolhardy by the more cautious animals of the forest, challenges the supremacy of big King Bear by climbing onto the Royal Rock. To everyone's surprise, the king finds Vole the ideal Looker-Outer when he has lost his glasses. Unconvincing language, programmed repetition and a degree of sentimentality mask a tale which parallels the fable of the Lion and the Mouse - the courage and strength of the small creature in the face of possible danger from a more powerful authority, the craven feebleness of animals (representing adults?) who hide rather than facing their fears, the realisation of his own 'short-sightedness' which changes the king's behaviour. The illustrations, in pen and watercolour, evoke a strength which the text doesn't manage to live up to, with a lively and engaging range of facial and body expression suggesting that more than we know is at stake. Somehow it doesn't quite come off - there's too much of a mismatch between potential and what is realised - but teachers might find circle-time exploration of the themes rewarding.