There once was a very hungry king /Who needed a cook like anything.
Sailing on the enormous interest in baking and cooking of all kinds comes this latest offering from Julia Donaldson. Julia creates her characteristic rhyming couplets which just bounce along making the tale come alive. She has partnered with David Roberts on several other successful books, and this one is both quirky and endearing. Cooking food seems to be a subject that interests children, with many a young fan of the popular Bake Off TV programme. So the theme of this tale will appeal, as the exasperated King is seen attempting to find himself a new cook. Testing the skills of many a hopeful applicant, their offerings are declared “Too hot! Too cold! Too sour! Too smelly!” by the grumpy King. Roberts gives lots of opportunities to spot the applicants’ odd culinary “treats”, from a melting ice swan to a blackbird pie, to sausages stuck in green jelly. The King then spies a nervous applicant who introduces himself as Wobbly Bob. He sure does wobble, for he is scared of… well, everything! Yet the King decides to take him on adventure after adventure, declaring first that He wants fish and chips…. which involves catching their fish then digging the potatoes. Wobbly Bob gets away with wimping out of every following activity, telling us he is scared of worms, and ants, and knives, that he is scared, just terribly scared. Every time the King comes up trumps, until there HRH is, prepping the entire fish and chips meal whilst Wobbly Bob hovers, wobbling in the background. A cat and a mouse appear somewhere on each spread making for good hunting for the reader as the King and Wobbly Bob move towards sharing their sumptuous meal. The constantly recurring phrases from each character will encourage young readers to join in, speedily moving on the narration. The whole story could be well presented as a dramatic production, and, surprise, surprise, the position of cook to the King goes to Wobbly Bob! Splendid fun.