The King of Nothing

by | Jan 6, 2019 | Book Review, Fiction, Picture Book

Book Details

The King of Nothing
Raúl Nieto Guridi, transl. Saul Endor, New York, New York Review Children’s Collection, pb. 978 1 6813 7290 7, £10.99, 2018, 40pp.

Fiction, Picture book, 4+ years

The King of Nothing is about abstract concepts: stubbornness, imagination and the very nature of existence. With its witty text and beguiling illustrations, this picture book honours the absurd in a way that marks it as a true one-off.

Mimo the First is quite happy being ‘king of nothing’ – but his world and his sense of order are turned upside down when ‘something’ appears in his kingdom – something he decides to fight against with all his might (no matter how tiring this may turn out to be). For children who are starting to understand that we cannot always have what we want, and that we must all find ways to come to terms with this, The King of Nothing offers an oblique, funny and profound insight.

Guridi’s illustrations are unforgettable and the move from sparse ghostliness to the final pages, bursting with colourful floral life, is beautifully handled. King Mimo is a very active character who brandishes his sword, tears downstairs, struggles and screams and twists and scatters things. He doesn’t hold back in any area of life but has a sudden powerful urge to sleep when it all gets just a little too much – the very embodiment of a pre-schooler.

The King of Nothing is as endearing as it is sophisticated – a picture book worth space on any royal shelf.

Review by Kate Lee