The Cook and the King

by Julia Donaldson (Author) David Roberts (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

The king searches his kingdom far and wide for the perfect cook.

He's very particular, and none of the cooks can get the job done just right. Until the king meets Wobbly Bob. The king thinks Wobbly Bob might be the perfect fit, but there's just one small hitch--Wobbly Bob is afraid of everything.

He's afraid that he'll nick himself with the sharp kitchen knives, and he's afraid he'll get dirt from the vegetable garden on his new apron. Wobbly Bob needs a companion to help him feel brave, so the king himself tags along every step of the way.

This tale of unlikely friendship is a fun and hilarious romp from a bestselling team.

Kirkus Reviews

Donaldson and Roberts cook up a treat for young readers. After yet another soggy pizza from a box, the king decides he needs a cook “like anything.” He “trie[s] out lots and lots of cooks” and decides on Wobbly Bob, who looks the part but has “feet that [shuffle] and hands that [shake]” and admits to being “a bit of a wimp.” Wobbly Bob may well turn out to be more royal disaster than royal cook. The king fancies a supper of fish and chips, but Wobbly Bob is scared of everything—fishing, digging the spuds, chopping, and frying. “I’m scared! I’m scared! I’m terribly scared,” is Wobbly Bob’s constant refrain, but the cheerful king helps every step of the way. “He fished and he fished like anything”; “he dug and he dug like anything”; “he chopped and he chopped like anything.” In fact, the king does all of the work and congratulates Wobbly Bob for the “delicious dish,” which they sit down and eat together. Donaldson’s lively rhyming text, tailor-made for reading aloud, is nicely complemented by Roberts’ colorful illustrations—strong on facial expressions that add to the story so that no explanation is needed when Wobbly Bob looks quizzical when the king congratulates him on his “great cooking” and gives him the job. Complexions in this medieval European–esque kingdom vary from pale to ruddy. A delicious cooking adventure that storytimers will love like anything. (Picture book. 3-8)

Copyright 2019 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission.


Preschool-Grade 2. A king seeks a new chef, but no one can please the hungry monarch. His last option is an admitted wimp, Wobbly Bob. When the king orders him to catch a fish and prepare it with chips, the nervous fellow cries “Help!” as he imagines everything that could go wrong (a shark! A wet apron!). The king agrees to help and catches several big fish. Wobbly Bob, equally terrified of digging up potatoes, chopping them, or using a frying pan, watches the king do the work. Later, delighted with the meal, the king says, “Congratulations, Wobbly Bob. / You may be a wimp, but you’ve got the job!” Donaldson, who was the 2011–2013 British Children’s Laureate, creates a rollicking, rhyming text that uses repeated lines effectively and reads aloud beautifully. The absurdity of the situation heightens the humor, which builds in the artwork as well as the text. Roberts’ pencil drawings, brightened with colors that stand out against the white backgrounds, illustrate the story while adding creative details. An amusing picture book that's fun to share.

Copyright 2019 Booklist, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

The redoubtable Donaldson (The Gruffalo) starts her story with a hungry king auditioning prospective cooks. He's a sensible-looking monarch with a mustache and a paunch, and from the line of be-aproned hopefuls he selects Wobbly Bob, a self-deprecating fellow with mismatched socks. But when asked to make fish and chips and to begin by gathering the ingredients, Wobbly Bob can't face the trial ("I'm scared! I'm scared! I'm terribly scared!"). In response, the king loads Bob into a Viking longboat and does the fishing for him: " 'I'll help you fish, ' said the hungry king, / So he fished and he fished like anything." The gesture also establishes a pattern: the king suggests a next step, Wobbly Bob explains nervously why he can't comply ("I'm scared of worms and I'm scared of ants./ They might crawl into my nice new pants"), and the king, showing genuine sympathy, takes over the next task. Donaldson's thumping lines scan as confidently as ever, while expressive characters painted by Roberts (Rosie Revere, Engineer) transmit emotion with great versatility, from fear to absorption to embarrassed relief. The image of a king in glad collaboration offers a gentle vision of how to rule. Ages 3-7. (May)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2-The marvelous team behind The Flying Bath are back to show readers how a timid chef comes to work for a persnickety king. During a trial run at fish and chips, each page's quatrain explains how the cook, Wobbly Bob, pleads, "I'm scared! I'm scared! I'm terribly scared!" before each step of preparation, so the king executes every task himself, from catching fish and digging up potatoes to chopping and frying. The chef steps back as the hungry king creates culinary masterpieces. Donaldson's storytelling is ever bright, and Roberts's lush cartoons masterfully mix the luxurious with the ridiculous. A tapestry unicorn rolls an eye as the king declines pizza and a cat claws away a half-burned wiener from the table. The patterns and textures beg to be touched. VERDICT This visual festival will be a hit at storytime.-Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Julia Donaldson
Julia Donaldson has written some of the world's best-loved children's books, including the modern classic The Gruffalo. Julia and her husband, Malcolm, divide their time between West Sussex and Edinburgh. David Roberts has illustrated many children's books, including Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer. He lives in London where, when not drawing, he likes to make hats.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
May 20, 2019
Age Range
4 - 8 years

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