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When I Was King Hardcover – October 14, 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 2—The boy narrating this expertly rhymed story is reluctant to give up the throne of being an only child. He tells his new sibling, "I was the star,/the prize,/the king…. But you have ruined/everything." Donning his gold crown (reminiscent of Max in Maurice Sendak's classic Where the Wild Things Are), he watches with growing frustration as the cherubic infant is coddled by his parents and grandparents and takes over his possessions. When the baby gnaws on his catcher's mitt, big brother finally breaks down and has a tantrum. But instead of punishing him with a time-out, Mama patiently explains that the baby can't do much now, but the boy has grown so much and can do many things. He proudly lists all the chores he can do, which garners appropriate praise from his family. Reassured that he is still loved, the boy decides "...maybe I can share my throne." McPhail's charming illustrations perfectly capture the narrator's mood in his facial expressions and body language. Ashman's verses, lettered in a child-friendly font that varies in size, are perfect for reading aloud. In the crowded field of new-baby books, this one's a keeper. Pair it with Kevin Henkes's Julius, the Baby of the World (HarperCollins, 1990) for a sibling-themed storytime.—Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Ashman gives the all-too-familiar story about a new baby in the family a humorous slant by having the protagonist speak directly to his new rival. The older sibling suffers poor-me pangs and laments that before you came everything was better. When the baby destroys everything in his wake, the narrator throws a fit and is surprised when his mother tells him it’s okay. (He expected a long time-out.) With savvy psychology, Mom contrasts the baby’s abilities with the boy’s, who then sees the upside of being a big brother. McPhail’s colorful paintings capture the very real up-and-down emotions of accepting a sibling. The older brother, who is pictured throughout wearing a crown, is willing, at the end, to share his throne. For the most part, the rhymes work well, with the punchy cadence of the verse making this book a solid read-aloud. Preschool-Grade 1. --Patricia Austin
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006029051X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060290511
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.2 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,788,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is the Broadway blockbuster, the 42nd Street triumph, the Ethel Merman, even, of children's books. I can't recall a book that read so well, with such energy and conviction, that it practically begs for you to belt out the text. It's not a play, but because the story is so dramatic, lyrical, immediate, and presented with a sort of hyper-realism, I'll present it as such here.

Imagine a splotlit four or five-year old boy, looking regal on his throne, with his doting family in rapt adoration, opening the show with a song reminiscing about the good ole pre-sibling days!
"Act 1, Scene 1":

Before you came, I owned the throne.
They trembled at my slightest moan.
I was...
the prize,
the king...
But you have ruined Everything.

I'm the one who hops and skips,
sings and dances, spins and flips,
But no one see a thing I do-
they never take their eyes off
YOU!"

shift your attention now to a very youong, very little, towed-hair boy holdlng a stuffed bunny and The author am]nd illzutr/wearing cute little green-bottomed slippers, looking right as us, smiling the smile of innocence and satisfaction. He's perfection drawn by renowned illustrator David McPhail, who specializes in using soft contours of color and shadow to highlight emotion and action. The boy begins to notice certain inequities and injustices: His baby brother can snort abd drool, burp and giggle, "but if i do, it's not polite." But that's not all: More peeotic text accompaies this realization.

"Before you came, this tub was mine,
This soap was mine. THis sub was mine.
THis train was mine.
THis hat was mine.
THis boat was mine.
This bat was mine."

and on for another page and a half!
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Before THAT baby arrived the little boy was the apple of everyone's eye. Grandma, Grandpa, Mama and Papa waited on him like he was a king and paid attention to every word he said, but that just about stopped when THAT baby showed up and it wasn't fair. Not fair at all. It is a well-known fact that the first boy in the family is a king and the boy even had a crown on his head to prove it.

"You yawn, they laugh.
You snort, they cheer.
You drool, they smile
from ear to ear.
You burp, they giggle
with delight . . .
But if I do, it's not polite."

When THAT baby plays in the tub he laughs and plays with everything that was the little boy's. When THAT baby is not in the tub it's always hard to share because he wants everything that is not his. He plays on the drum, plays with the little tug boat and grabs for the teddy bear. THAT baby rips up books, throws toys, tips over tower blocks, breaks things, but when he gnawed on his catcher's mitt that was tantrum time. The little boy threw himself on the floor, yelled and pounded his fist. Oh, oh! Is Mama going to get mad?

Every child who gets a new brother or sister in the house experiences many of the same emotions this little boy feels when he runs up against THAT baby. This book gives the message that it is all right and understandable to feel upset and even resent a sibling at times. The rhyming sequence was a lot of fun and the art work was very expressive and appealing. If you have a new baby coming or one already in the house this would be a fun one to pick up!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My son received this book upon the arrival of his little sister over a year ago. I purchased it for a friends son who issoon becoming a big brother. This a great story for little ones who are no longer an only child. The book came in perfect condition..
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Format: Hardcover
"When I Was King" is a delightful rhyming picture book about a new sibling. Dealing with the feelings that come along with a new baby in the family, this story's main character comes to appreciate the differences between himself and his new little brother. This book is sure to be a favorite with any child who has dealt with jealousy over a new member in the household!

(Although I received a free copy of this book from the author, the opinions in this review are true and are my own.)
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