The Winter King and the Summer Queen. Author: Mary Lister
The Winter King and the Summer Queen is a story about two conflicting monarchs in the sky, each with their own ideas on how to control the Earth’s weather. Whilst the Winter King wants to send snow and storms down all the time, the Summer Queen wants to send sunshine and keep the Earth warm and bright. This is a story about how two sides with conflicting ideals can come together and make the world a better place.
I found the story itself was well written and would be very engaging if read aloud to children. The excellent illustrations and use of colours is eye catching and give a vivid impression of how it might feel to experience different types of weather. In addition, there is a good use of metaphors and alliteration (Sunshine Sally, Danny Drizzle etc) to really help build a clear character profile to go with the illustrations. For example, the Summer Queen’s dress is described as being made from ‘galaxies of a million, tiny, glimmering, shimmering stars.’ Not only does this help the reader, or indeed the listener, to develop a clearer image of the character, but also could help promote the use of metaphors in a child’s own writing.
The moral of the story is about conflict resolution and how working together is better for everyone. The Winter King is dark, cold and grumpy and so wants the Earth to be this way also. When the Summer Queen sees what is happening to the Earth she calls on her friends to make a magical rainbow which warms the Earth with sunshine and joy. Try as he may, the Winter King cannot destroy the rainbow and so confronts the Summer Queen. However, as he approaches her he finds that his coldness begins to melt away and he too is filled with joy. After singing and dancing together both parties agree that sharing control of the weather would be best.
There are a few useful morals here which can be taught to children; sharing, positivity over pessimism and trying things another way to name a few. All of these can be discussed while the book is being read or even after. A book of this nature would most likely be used with younger children, 4-7 years, however given the weather metaphor, it may be possible to use with older children. For example, a class of year 6’s could present a weather program based on whose turn it is to control the weather. Alternatively, they could write a diary entry for the Winter King or summer Queen, detailing the events of the day.
On the whole, I enjoyed the book and can see many potential uses for it in the classroom.
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