It’s a snow day, and Alice’s father wakes to find her dressed in royal garb, declaring she is “KING Alice! The first!” King Alice is full of creative ideas for how to spend the unexpected day off, and whatever she says goes. While her mother tends to the baby, King Alice and her drowsy but willing father write and illustrate a story. Even though King Alice is bursting with ideas and hops from one game to another, she faithfully returns to their story—the one where, just like in real life, she calls the shots.
After a well-earned timeout breaks King Alice’s stride, father and daughter make amends and return to their bustling, chaotic story featuring pirates, unicorns and fairies. Though most of King Alice is filled with the lively pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations that won Cordell a Caldecott Medal for Wolf in the Snow, the story within the story is rendered via Cordell’s children’s stash of art supplies, and his fluid, humorous dialogue keeps things moving at a brisk pace.
The bond between father and daughter is the heart of this sweet but never saccharine story. King Alice’s father goes all in, never turning down a game in the name of traditional gender roles—he spends most of the book in a tiara and toy earrings—which is refreshing to see. Long may King Alice reign.