Old King Cole

Old King Cole

  • 1595

By: Iza Trapani

Old King Cole was a sleepy old soul. . .

The royal hall is filled with guests eager to celebrate at the King Cole Ball. King Cole welcomes them all to the festivities, but as the music begins, the King is soon lulled to sleep!

Poor King Cole had been preparing for the ball all night long and now finds himself too sleepy to enjoy with all the other guests. The crowd attempts in vain to wake the sleeping highness—the rooster cries out a cock-a-doodle-do, Mother Hubbard’s dog contributes a loud bark, the three little piggies offer up squeals, Little Boy Blue blares his horn—but the king snores on.

Fresh out of ideas, the guests are pacing the floor when The Queen of Hearts walks in with a sweet idea. Could her plan awake the exhausted king from his deep sleep?

The lyrical rhyming text and playful illustrations provide another fun nursery rhyme update to add to the many retellings of favorite songs for which Iza Trapani is known. Backmatter includes music and lyrics to the full rhyme.

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Author & Illustrator Bios:

Iza Trapani, author & illustrator

Iza Trapani was born in Poland and when she first came to the United States at the age of seven, she learned English in large part by reading a book of Mother Goose nursery rhymes. She is the best-selling author/illustrator of several children's books, including Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; I’m a Little Teapot; The Itsy Bitsy Spider; and Rufus and Friends: Rhyme Time. She lives in the Hudson Valley of New York.

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Editorial Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews

What can all the characters in Mother Goose's world do when the reveler in chief runs out of revelry?

Trapani begins with the familiar first verse of the nursery rhyme, with the trio of fiddlers (cats in green tunics walking on two legs) trailing behind the unmistakably merry monarch. But once he settles into his throne, Cole can't stay awake for the King Cole Ball. Some of his problem is the sweetness of the fiddlers' serenade, but also his party preparations have simply worn him out. Mother Hubbard and her dog, the Three Little Pigs, Little Boy Blue (depicted with brown skin and curly black hair), and Bo Peep (drawn with Asian facial characteristics) each have a try, but to no avail. All the Mother Goose guests pace the floor in distress, until the Queen of Hearts waltzes in with a tray to save the day. The heavenly aroma of her heart-shaped tarts jolts the king from slumber, and the taste puts him back in a party mood. Trapani's paintings, in watercolor, Acryla gouache, ink, and colored pencil, are bright and delightful, but they are busy enough that large groups will find distinguishing them a challenge. The story itself is amusing but does not stand out in the Mother Goose crowd. Music and extended lyrics for "Old King Cole" fill the last page.

A pleasant-enough diversion.

School Library Journal

Trapani has added another nursery rhyme extension book to her large collection. In this new version, Old King Cole has been up all night planning his yearly ball to be held in the royal hall. When the fiddlers three serenade him with a sweet song, the king falls asleep. Now comes the problem: the ball can’t begin without him. What follows are various nursery rhyme characters’ attempts to wake him up. The rooster, Mother Hubbard and her dog, the three pigs, Little Boy Blue, and Little Bo Peep all try to wake up Old King Cole, to no avail. Will there be no ball? Then in comes the Queen of Hearts with a tray of her freshly baked tarts to save the day. When the yummy aroma reaches the king’s nose, he awakens and the festivities can begin. Trapani’s rhymes are fun, and the language flows well from line to line. Her use of some uncommon words will add to a child’s vocabulary: serenade, desire, hoarse, shrill, and blared. The detailed illustrations, done in watercolor, gouache, ink, and colored pencil, make it easy to pick out the different characters. The back cover of the book lists all the invitees, which allows children to search each page for the various guests. VERDICT With its large and easy-to-see art and rich language, this is a great choice for storytimes and a fun addition to any children’s collection


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ISBN: 978-1-58089-632-0

ISBN: 978-1-60734-909-9 EPUB
ISBN: 978-1-60734-910-5 PDF
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Ages: 2-5
Page count: 32
8 3/8 x 9 5/8

Correlated to Common Core State Standards:
English Language Arts-Literacy. Reading Literature. Kindergarten. Standards 1-10

If you like this book, you’ll enjoy these:
Iza Trapani's Nursery Rhyme series
Will You Be Mine?
It's Raining, It's Pouring