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King Bidgood's in the Bathtub Hardcover – October 10, 1985
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4 In this humorously original tale, various members of the Court, all clothed in elaborate Elizabethan dress, try to dislodge the King from his bubbly tub. Instead they are drawn into it with him, to "do battle" with toy ships and warriors; to eat a lavish feast; to fish and to dance. It is the young page who finds a solution, finally, by pulling the plug. Much of the delight is in Don Wood's meticulous oil paintings, which juxtapose the starched, overdressed, "shocked" demeanor of the Court with the King's twinkling, sensual, even lascivious manner. Minute details in the paintings emphasize this contrast; the red-haired naked King frolics while the fully-clothed courtiers emerge dripping from the bath with literally all their starch taken out. A voluptuous book whose rich range of colors and tones reflect the passing hours of the day. As in the Woods' Napping House (HBJ, 1984), the few simple words of text per large, well-designed page invite storytellingbut keep the group very small, so the children can be close enough to pore over the brilliant, robust illustrations. Susan Patron, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
An ALA Notable Children’s Book
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
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I'm not saying that this is a baby book; the pictures are amazing, and the story is funny. I read it to my 3rd-5th graders, and they love it. Honestly, you could spend 20 minutes looking at each page, and still miss some cool detail. Don and Audrey Wood are among my favorite children's author/illustrators, and their books deserve a place alongside your Maurice Sendak and Mo Willems books.
A major theme of King Bidgood is that the solution to what seems like an impossible problem is often quite simple and can be solved by a mere child. The young page in this story enlists the help of all his "betters"--a knight, a queen, a duke, and the entire court--to get the king out of the bathtub, but in the end, he (a simple servant boy) outwits them all. While the others invent elaborate needs that the king must attend to--battles, feasts, fishing, and dancing--the page simply pulls the plug.
Much of the book's humor lies in the characterization of the king and his court. Rather than get out of the tub or reject the court's expressed needs, the king tries to satisfy the needs while remaining where he's at. He gladly welcomes the knight to battle in his tub, the queen to feast in his tub, the duke to fish in his tub, and--to every child's delight--the entire court to dance in his tub. These are feats that can only be accomplished through pure, fun-loving imagination on the part of the illustrator and the readers.
As the book progresses, the court's facial responses are grossly exaggerated, their expressions of amazement and dismay heightening. And when the court fail in their attempts, they try to preserve their dignity, however wet and bedraggled they may be. The king, on the other hand, is completely at ease until the very end of the book, when suddenly the page adopts a look of immense satisfaction and pulls the bathtub plug, and the king is left astonished and fumbling for a towel.
In addition to providing humor and developing characters, the illustrations provide a rhythmic framework of light for the plot, alternating between the well-lit bathroom and the ever-changing quality of light in the castle hall, where the moon rises and falls. Within the general rhythmic framework of the illustrations lie fascinating details. The more one looks, the more one sees. The cake in the feast scene has a miniature king-in-bathtub figure on top; the knight in the battle scene accidentally leaves the bathroom with a tiny ship on the end of his scabbard . . . An observant reader will also notice that the chain to the bathtub plug is visible in every picture, as a foreshadowing of the solution.
The text, also rhythmic, is unrhymed, but each time the king invites folks into his tub, his plea ends in a delightful three-word repetition: boom, boom, boom; yum, yum, yum; trout, trout, trout; and jig, jig, jig. In the end, though, the king is stunned into silence, and the last repetition--or last laugh, you might say--is not his own, but the tub's: glub, glub, glub.
The book will leave children clamoring for more, and Don and Audrey Wood have plenty of others that will satisfy, including the award-winning "The Napping House," which has in common with King Bidgood a delightful brand of visual slapstick distinctive to the Woods. Both books would make an excellent addition to any child's or classroom's library.