Nick Sharratt’s instantly recognisable drawings are full of warmth and character. In this, the first book that he has written as well as illustrated, words and pictures work together beautifully to tell a story that will warm the hearts of everyone who reads it.
It starts in traditional fashion: ‘Once upon a time….’ In this instance the sentence concludes ‘there was a king who lived in a rather grand castle, with his best friend, the cat.’ That qualifying ‘rather’ sets the tone for the story that follows: it’s precise, understated, comic. A few short pages later and the king and the cat are looking for a new place to live, following an Unfortunate Incident (it involves a dragon). They chose 37 Castle Close, because ‘the address had a nice comforting ring to it’: indeed! They settle in and under the direction of the cat, by far the more competent of the two, furnish the house – via a car boot sale – and stock up at the supermarket on royal themed goods (golden delicious, king-size bottles of coke, coronation chicken sandwiches!). The cat goes out of his way to make sure the king happy, arranging a special garden party with their new next-door neighbours when he realises his friend is missing the royal banquets.
Sharratt makes the fantastical – king and cat at a car boot sale – ordinary, and the ordinary sublime: a trip to the supermarket will be very familiar to all young children, but is made magical when the shopping list is in the hands of these two unusual friends, and there’s a real fairy tale feel to their home life in the cosy bungalow. Young children will absolutely understand too the relationship between the two central characters, and identify completely with the king who is childlike in his innocence and his inability to do adult things. Thank heavens the cat is there to love and look after him.
This is perfect reading for young children. They’ll love the story, which features its fair amount of adventure and jeopardy as well as some very funny scenes and events, and even the very young will be able to ‘read’ the story through Sharratt’s pictures. Thoroughly charming this already has the feel of a classic and in its handsome golden livery will make a regal addition to any Christmas stocking!