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Of the dozen or so books Benjamin Elkin wrote, The King's Wish ranks among his best. Benjamin Elkin was truly a master storyteller, able to capture a child's attention on Page 1 and hold it until the end of the story. Most of his stories, including the King's Wish, appeal to both young children and beginning readers. This story is filled with wonderful imagery, good guys and bad guys, teamwork concepts, and grand adventure.
The King's Wish is divided into three short chapters. Chapter 1 begins with the King wishing that he could take a short vacation from his busy King's schedule. However, the King is concerned that his three young (teenage) sons are not yet responsible enough to handle the workload while the King is away.
In true Elkin fashion -- many of his stories contain riddles that must be solved -- the King decides to put the three young princes to a King's test. The princes are locked in a room with no apparent way to escape, yet they are told they must find a way out if they are to become kings. Sorry, I won't tell you how they manage to escape; but the princes' ingenuity convinces the King that he can take his long-overdue vacation.
Chapter 2 focuses on the king's vacation. While fishing and camping, the King is accosted by two wiley crooks. But the King, with that awesome red beard, is well loved in his kingdom and a furry friend soon comes to the King's rescue.
In the final chapter, the King awakes early and is getting ready to return from vacation when he notices off in the distance that his kingdom is on fire. How will the good King save his kingdom from burning to the ground? How can he wake the young princes up from their slumber? Its the final riddle of the book and you'll have to read the story to see how it is resolved.
Other stories by Elkin that I strongly recommend: Guillespe and the Guards (runner up for a Caldecott), Such is the Way of the World, the Big Jump (for younger children), the Loudest Noise in the World, Six Foolish Fishermen, Why the Sun Was Late, and Al and the Magic Lamp.
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I remember growing up with this story -- the story is charming, but the gorgeous illustrations by Anita Lobel are what have stuck with me the most through all these years. Those illustrations were part of what helped to excite my interest in art at a young age. Years and years have passed, but I've always remembered this story and it's lovely pictures, but I couldn't remember the title. I finally found the title, and have found a used copy so that I can introduce my children to it someday.
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