Children's fiction

The King of the Copper Mountains by Paul Biegel

Illustrations: Sally Collins, Translator: Gillian Hume

The foreword by the author’s son really set the mood for this book. This is a reprint, but it is one of those timeless narratives. The King is dying, and his heart has slowed. To keep it ticking, he needs stories. The sense of urgency is palpable as we alternate between the story that is being told and the doctor struggling to find his way to the medicine.
The part I enjoyed the most was the individual stories. Each story is told by an animal, and it is something that has either occurred to them or they are holding the story for someone else in their family. Each one comes with its own built-in discussion topic based on the narrated events, not a moral, which was refreshing. I could not read them all in succession but had to pace myself as this is probably the best way to appreciate the content.
Surprisingly, the ending brings an unexpected twist to the plotline. As an adult, I found it a little strange that the animals behaved like their actual animal selves in the narratives, but during their stay in the King’s castle, they lived more harmoniously than expected. This is obviously not an issue that will bother a younger audience who routinely watch anthropomorphic animals live in the same location.
There are a lot of topics explored here, loyalty being one of the primary ones. The concept of motivation is prominent. In some ways, the animals do not get any immediate gratification for trying to help the King; they do it out for various reasons, some of which are mentioned as the stories are told. I would recommend it to even a modern younger audience. They are sure to find something to think about with this story.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.


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