The King and the Sea, by Heinz Janisch, illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch (Gecko Press, 2015)


King and the Sea_Gecko Press_full book_Page_01What the book’s about

In this deceptively simple collection of stories, a king finds out a lot about himself through brief encounters with everyday objects and elements of the natural world. Although somewhat self-centered, this perceptive king is open to new experiences. Observing the cat, he learns to appreciate the warm sun on his skin. He listens to the waves and stands in the rain and is changed. He realizes that there are many things over which he has no control. Eventually, he is even persuaded to take off his crown. As we follow along on his journey, readers are prompted to look at themselves in relation to nature and ponder and how they fit into the big scheme of things. Short but potent, playful but powerful, these stories of “a little king in a big world” are perfect for children of all ages.

Jumpstart and Activity by Jessica Young

Jumpstart for 1st through 4th grades

Using stories from the book as a model, kids imagine and develop their own encounters for the king. What would happen if he had a conversation with lightning? Or an earthworm? Or a button?

Kids can write and illustrate their own stories for the king (or queen!) and present them to the class, or display them on a wall. 

Activity: Character Exploration

After reading the book, ask kids to develop their own characters. Individually or in small groups they can first make a list of physical or personality traits that the character would have. After listing the traits, kids can imagine showing the character different objects, animals, or elements in nature. What conversations would their characters have with these things?

Expansion of the character activity above

After exploring how the characters they’ve developed might talk with the objects, write poems as dialogues between the characters and each object, animal, or element in their world.

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