Title: King and King
Author: Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland
Illustrator: Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland
Publisher: Tricycle Press
ISBN Number: 978-1582460611
Number of Pages: 32 Pages
Reading Level: K-3
Genre: Children’s picture book/fantasy
In this story, a queen is pressuring her son to hurry up and get married. Potential suiters are brought to him and he is not interested in any of the princesses. Then, he meets one he is interested in… but it is not the princess. It is her brother that he is interested in. The two princes end up getting married in a beautiful, fun ceremony.
Main Themes: The theme of the story is the twist added at the end. It is not a boy-meets-girl set up but a boy-meets-boy set up which still ends in celebration and excitement. It is introducing the ideas of homosexuality at a young age.
Strengths: This story takes away an overused story line of the prince meeting the perfect princess and living happily ever after and adds a twist. It is brief and light-hearted that presents this relationship in a matter-of-fact way and makes it seem normalized and acceptable. The authors of the book are co-authors and co-illustrators that work well together to portray this relationship. The book has been taken to the theater stage and performed from Vienna to Mexico City. Their publisher encouraged them to write a sequel which they tell of the two princes adopting a child.
Weaknesses: Bringing a book like this into a classroom can cause a lot of controversy and questions. Parents may not want children introduced to this idea yet and children may be confused with the concepts. This book tackles the concept hard and even shows the two princes kissing, which could be a bit much for younger audiences. It would be good for students who have previously had conversations or been introduced to the topic. The pictures in the book are almost collage style. For someone who is not familiar with this style they can seem clashing and confusing. The men in the story are also kind of portrayed as ugly and weak, which could cause problems since they are also portrayed as homosexual. One could argue that they are stereotyping homosexual men to seem ugly and weak. There is also a lack of the communication between the two princes before they get married, but this also keeps the story short and light-hearted making a big controversial issue viewed as simple.
http://entertainment.time.com/2007/10/02/top-10-book-controversies/slide/king-king-by-linda-de-haan-and-stern-nijland/ : This is an article that discusses the book and the controversy it presents.
http://www.lindadehaan.com/biography.html : This is the biography of one of the authors and illustrators of the book- Linda de Haan.
http://www.massresistance.org/docs/issues/king_and_king/book.html : This is an article about the controversial arising that took place when a second grade teacher read this book to her class without parent consent.