King & King

by Linda de Haan

Hardcover, 2003





Tricycle Press (2003), 32 pages


When the queen insists that the prince get married and take over as king, the search for a suitable mate does not turn out as expected.

Media reviews

Horn Book Magazine
In this mischievous twist on the picking-the-princess motif... Silly but affectionate collage illustrations match the text for whimsical irreverence, and the whole thing is so good-natured that only the most determined ideologue will be able to take offense. The political point of the book will of course be lost on most of the traditional picture-book audience, who will probably come to the simple conclusion that the prince likes boys better than girls, which, of course, he does.
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Lambda Book Report
We all grew up with this story: a reluctant prince or princess is ordered to marry and rejects one suitor after another. But at last one whom no one else likes wins the royal heart, and the two live happily ever after. ... Their story starts traditionally.... But Princess Madeleine is accompanied by her brother, Prince Lee. And the two princes fall madly in love. What's more, they marry and live happily ever after. ... The illustrations, colorful cut-paper collages, are big and brash. Some characters' open mouths are a bit too brash for my taste, but the pictures are full of fun things to find.... First-time authors Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland met in art school and, according to their publisher, "enjoyed making the book very much and considered working on it one big party." Reading King & King makes one feel as if one has gone to "one big party" as well. And I, for one, had a marvelous time!
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5 - In this postmodern fractured fairy tale... the crown prince, who "never cared much for princesses," finally caves in and agrees to wed in order to ascend the throne... but none of the eligible princesses strikes the Prince's fancy, until Princess Madeleine shows up. The Prince is immediately smitten ... with her brother, Prince Lee. ... Originally published in the Netherlands, this is a commendable fledgling effort with good intentions toward its subject matter. Unfortunately, though, the book is hobbled by thin characterization and ugly artwork.... Some of the details in the artwork are interesting, including the "crown kitty" performing antics in the periphery. However, that isn't enough to compensate for page after page of cluttered, disjointed, ill-conceived art. The book does present same-sex marriage as a viable, acceptable way of life within an immediately recognizable narrative form, the fairy tale. However, those looking for picture books about alternative lifestyles may want to keep looking for a barrier-breaking classic on the subject.
[Starred Review] Move over, Princess Smartypants: this Dutch import arrives to take top honors in the fairytale-fracturing department. When the pushy queen of a small, unnamed country decides it’s high time for her son, the prince, to settle down and marry a princess so she can retire... the prince is unmoved until Princess Madeleine shows up with her brother, Prince Lee, and, “It was love at first sight. / ‘What a wonderful prince!’ ” The prince and Prince Lee are duly wed, “And everyone lives happily ever after.” ... Taken all together, the illustrations work wonderfully with the text to make its statement with no apologies whatsoever. ... On the final, wordless page, the happy couple smooch, the actual meeting of lips chastely fig-leafed by a bright red heart. Indeed a book whose time has come, this is no pusillanimous bibliotherapy; it is, rather, a joyful celebration that at the same time firmly challenges the assumptions established and perpetuated by the entire canon of children’s picture books. Hurrah to newcomers de Haan and Nijland and to the publisher for bringing them to an American audience. (Picture book. 5-7)
When a grouchy queen tells her layabout son that it's time for him to marry... Several unsatisfactory bachelorettes visit the castle before "Princess Madeleine and her brother, Prince Lee" appear in the doorway. ... "What a wonderful prince!" he and Prince Lee both exclaim, as a shower of tiny Valentine hearts flutters between them. First-time co-authors and artists de Hann and Nijland matter-of-factly conclude with the royal wedding of "King and King".... Unfortunately, the multimedia collages are cluttered with clashing colors, amorphous paper shapes, scribbles of ink and bleary brushstrokes; the characters' features are indistinct and sometimes ugly. Despite its gleeful disruption of the boy-meets-girl formula, this alterna-tale is not the fairest of them all. For a visually appealing and more nuanced treatment of diversity in general, Kitty Crowther's recent Jack and Jim is a better choice. Ages 6-up.

User reviews

LibraryThing member mcrotti
King and King by Linda de Haan puts a twist on the typical "prince embarks on search for beautiful princess" fairy tale. In the story, the queen insists that her son should be married by now, and endeavors to find him a bride. She puts in a call to castles around the world, and the next day, princesses are lined up at the door. None of the contenders strike the prince's fancy, until he meets Princess Madeleine...and promptly falls in love with her brother! The two are married, and rule over the land as King and King.
This story would be wonderful for libraries to add to their collections, as it gives young readers a non-traditional take on an oft-told story. The book presents the relationship between the princes matter-of-factly, and never insinuates that there is anything odd about two princes getting married. The illustrations are bright and fun, and the prince's mother and cat add humor to the tale. I particularly loved how this non-traditional couple still got the traditional "happily ever after" ending.
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LibraryThing member ironicqueery
It's great to have a children's book in which a prince can marry a prince. However, the plot moved entirely too fast and left too many gaps to satisfy me. Even for a children's book, there should be a more coherant storyline. Alternatively, the artwork is fabulous! Each page is a mixture of painting, collage, and pen and pencil work. The images pop off the page.… (more)
LibraryThing member jscheper
This is a story of a prince whose mother was getting anxious to have the prince married off. The Queen calls on other kingdoms to send princesses for the prince to choose. A host of silly princesses come to the castle and the prince is not amused by any. It was not until Princess Madeleines brother come in that the princes heart was stirring. The two princes get married and everyone lives happily ever after.
The illustrations are very colorful and full of eye candy. The are simply drawn and almost look like a child has drawn the illustrations. The storyline is cute and simple. This would be a good book to have for children with same-sex parents to show normalcy.
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LibraryThing member messelti
A delightful twist on an old and usually predictable theme, King and King follows a prince’s hunt for a princess to be his queen, searching until he happens upon the sovereign that catches his eye, another prince! Writers and illustrators, Lisa de Haan and Stern Nijland offer a “happily ever after” story models acceptance of different families, instead of preaching it. Characters and plot are simple, leaving the detail to the pictures. King and King is beautifully illustrated in a combination of styles: watercolor, stamp, collage, and more, with text superimposed on the complex and colorful background, with tiny details adding depth to their style and details for adult story-timers. Highly recommended for picture book collections in any public library or school library (thought it might be better fit for a particularly liberal school district).… (more)
LibraryThing member allawishus
I appreciated the sentiment of the story; the Prince ended up being gay and marrying another Prince and nobody made a big deal out that and was instead happy for them. Bravo! That's great. However, the illustrations really bothered me. There were several drawings of the Prince's mother that were positively nightmare inducing! In particular, one in which she had her mouth open - blech!

I did like the princess from Greenland drawings - she was charming. And the cat, called "Crown Kitty."

All in all, though, I was disappointed.
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LibraryThing member bnhays
The prince is told he must wed someone and take over the kingdom. The prince however was not happy with all of the princesses that came, but he did fall in love with a prince. The two got married, took over the kingdom and lived happily ever after. I loved this book purely for the fact that there was no controversy over the fact that the prince chose another prince to marry.… (more)
LibraryThing member michelleknudsen
I loved the way this started out, especially the voice of the queen. But I found the presentation of the princesses rather off-putting: the first three were deliberately made to seem unattractive, and the fourth—the princess from Mumbai—was mocked for her long arms, which actually seemed kind of offensive. I love the idea of the prince falling in love with another prince, but I think making the princesses so unappealing undercuts the concept somewhat. It’s also slightly disappointing that it was love at first sight—I understand there’s not a ton of room for long, drawn-out romances in picture books, but it would have been nice if we got to feel there was some reason he fell in love with the prince other than just the fact that he’s male.… (more)
LibraryThing member mrcmyoung
The queen wants the prince married and out of her hair, but none of the princesses seem to interest him. Finally the brothers of one of his potential matches catches his eye and they live happily ever after. I know fairy tales don't demand much in the way of character development, but it bothers me that there seems to be no reason, other than his gender, that the prince should fall in love with the young man he marries. The illustrations are also expressionistic and distracting.… (more)
LibraryThing member kimcc
This book is told with a lot of humor. The queen is overbearing and often ugly. Each potential princess is quirky and odd---not at all the typical beauties in most fairy tales. The prince's choice is accepted immediately, and the wedding is depicted as "very special."

The book was originally published in The Netherlands. I don't know if it has been challenged there, but it's hit ALA's Banned/Challenged book lists in the US. The book would be a good one for a library's Banned Books display because the cover and illustrations are so eye-catching, patrons would probably stop to take a closer look.… (more)
LibraryThing member DiamondDog
A very tired and grumpy queen wants her son to marry, though he announces he has never much liked princesses. A few prospective women come by, but it isn't until one comes along with her brother that the prince is smitten, with the brother of course. The marriage happens and everyone lives happily ever after. Very light, sweet story that could be shared with children to open up a dialogue or when teaching a lesson about families. Challenged/restricted for: depicting homosexuality; inapropriate children's book.… (more)
LibraryThing member librarianshannon
Another book has already hit my “must haves” for its illustrations – Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland’s King and King. The images are great because they are rather atypical collage that I find far more interesting than the story. In it, a queen wants to marry off her prince son so that she can retire from ruling. Turns out he isn’t really interested in the princesses paraded in front of him, but a princess’ brother makes his heart throb. The feeling is mutual and the two marry. What seems to have caused all the controversy is the very last page – even after the “and everyone lived happily ever after" page. On it, the two princes kiss (we assume, as a heart is covering their lips).

This book was also at the public library, but had been placed in the Parent/Teacher section – making it more difficult to find (I needed help to find the section and then took about five minutes within those shelves to locate the book). I’m pretty sure this storm would have blown over had the kissing scene been eliminated. Oh, and the sequel (which I have not been able to find) where the two go on a honeymoon to the jungle and their dream of raising a child comes true because a runaway hides in their suitcase and they discover the kid when they get home. Yah!
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LibraryThing member ebruno
A queen calls a large group of princesses together hoping her son falls in love with one of them and gets married. Princess after princess was regected, until suddenly the prince spots Prince Lee. Immediately, the two fall in love and get married. They become known as King and King. I think this book would sublty introduce children to same sex partners. It may also comfort children with same sex parents.… (more)
LibraryThing member atia
A wonderfully illustrated book about a prince who is supposed to find himself a princess, but ends up finding "a wonderful prince". Lovely!
LibraryThing member francescadefreitas
This was delightful - the story that generated conflict across the US for showing two princes who fall in love at first sight, get married, and live happily ever after.
It's a lovely fractured fairy tale - not only does the prince marry a prince, but there is a wonderfully diverse bunch of princesses, and one of them ends up with the footman. The Crown Kitty shows up on almost every page up to some stunt or another.
The art is chaotic, and enjoyable, breaking the model of the impossibly good looking fairy tale characters - everyone is funny looking and full of character.
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LibraryThing member pbailey1980
This book is particularly interesting in our current time due to the civil rights movement centered around the rights of homosexuals and transgenders in the United States. It offers a view of understanding and acceptance in "non-traditional" relationships even in a children's story.
LibraryThing member joshuachanyh
This book offer readers a different perspective of dating relationship. Also, it also represents the voice of homosexual people in the community. It portrays that a king is just like any of us too. He can be annoyed by his parents nag.
LibraryThing member DJSimpson
King & King introduces students to the acceptance of homosexuality. While the book teaches a wonderful lesson of acceptance of others, it may be too controversial in a classroom setting. Teachers must be careful when using books such as King & King in their classroom to avoid offending or causing conflict with parents.
LibraryThing member EmilyEgert
I absolutely loved reading, "King and King," by Linda de Haan for many reasons. This book is about a prince who is told by his mother that he must get married, the prince tries to tell his mother that he does not like any of the princesses that he is met and the prince does not find love until he meets the man of his dreams. For one thing I found the illustrations of this text to be very interesting and fun to look at. The illustrations looked as though they were made from a collage of different pages of newspaper, magazines, and other pieces of paperwork. I found these illustrations to be beautiful though they were unlike a traditional picture book. I very much appreciated how the author of the book slowly presented the idea to her readers that the prince was gay by adding in hints throughout the text. The prince tells his mother that he does not like the princesses he has met and when he finally decides to have suitor princesses come to meet, "it was love at first sight," when a princess came in the room with her brother. This allowed the readers who may not be familiar with the idea of a homosexual marriage to be warmed up to the statement before it was blatantly said. I also very much appreciated the positivity at the end of the story. After the wedding everyone is happy and, "the queen even shed a tear or two." This tells students that it is a good thing to be homosexual, that no matter what the most important thing is that you are happy.… (more)
LibraryThing member StephanieWeiner
There are two reasons I enjoyed this book. The first was that the illustrations added charm and were attention grabbing. My eyes never wanted to leave the colorful drawings. The second reason I liked this book was that it was easy to follow and children will understand the main point/ big idea of the book. The big idea was love is love no matter what gender. All that matters is that your heart "flutters" for someone.… (more)
LibraryThing member torilynae
I liked this book. It had a really good plot, The prince is trying to find a bride and meets princesses from all over but he doesn't like any of them until he meets another prince. They get married and become King & King. The pictures were very colorful and entertaining. The main idea was that it is alight being gay.
LibraryThing member Andrewturner
I believe that the message in this book is about finding yourself, and acceptance. I also believe that it is about finding true love, even if that true love isn't what most people would consider "normal".

I had mixed feelings when it came to this book after reading it. The book portrayed a positive message, that you should follow your heart rather than what others tell you. The story followed a Prince who was looking for true love. After the Queen had brought many princesses to meet the Prince, none seemed to be what he was looking for. It wasn't until he met Lee, another prince, that the Queen realized that her son had found love with another Prince. One thing that I actually really liked about this book were the illustrations. They were very vibrant and colorful and quite animated. The colors and pictures matched the mood of the story. "The funny little princess from Greenland" was a line in the story, which was accompanied by a very silly looking girl in a weird green dress. I also enjoyed the animated hearts that flowed between the Prince and Lee when they met. There were hearts of all shapes, sizes, colors, and styles.

One thing I did not like about this story was that the story seemed to be somewhat bland. The characters were not very relatable, and they seemed to lack depth and emotion. When the Queen made up her mind that the Prince would marry, there was no emotion given or spoken of. I would think that there would be some type of determination in finding a Princess for her son. Also, when Princess Rahjmashputtin was insulted about her long arms, she simply stormed out. The only emotion that seemed to actually be felt by the reader was the happiness that the Prince's expressed when they found each other, and that was at the very end of the story.
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LibraryThing member pduste1
King and King is a great book by Linda de Haan. The collage style illustrations and playful font are the two main reasons why I enjoyed this book. The entire book is illustrated using various materials. There is one page of the book where the king and his mother are sitting at the table. This page had my favorite illustration since it had a lot of different textures being used. For example, the plates where made out of newspaper, the table was cardboard, and their clothes where made with tissue paper. This style gave the book a very unique look. To go along with the illustrations, the words in the book were different sizes and oddly spaced out. I like this because it gave emphasis to certain words, which added meaning to the sentences. One sentence read, “When I was your age I’d been married twice already,” with the word “twice” much larger than the rest of the words. The main idea of this book is homosexual relationships. I have never read a book before with this kind of main idea, which I found very refreshing.… (more)
LibraryThing member rdg301library
This book is about a Queen that has ruled for many years and is tired of it. She decides that the Prince must get married immediately. Princesses from far and wide come out to meet the Prince. The Queen and the Prince do not find what they are looking for until a princess shows up with her brother. The Prince immediately falls in love with the handsome young man and they live happily ever after.

This book has a great alternate ending to the typical fairy tale. It is a fun book that has great illustrations and conveys an important message. This would be a great way to introduce a lesson over underrepresented groups.

Modern Fantasy
Reading Level: 2.9
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LibraryThing member TaraKennedy
This was a bit of a strange book. Whereas some of the others books dealing with homosexuality treated the issue as more of a non-issue or only mildly relevant to the story, this book, the prince's general disinterest in princesses took place front and center. It was a clever way to address the topic, but I just felt it was a bit clumsy for more modern times. The picture at the back of the book was odd too in that it showed the 2 kings kissing, but a heart was covering their lips, as if they couldn't quite handle showing the 2 men kissing. Not sure this is a book I would seek out for my class library.
Reading Level: 2.9 Interest Level: K-3
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LibraryThing member cabaty
"King and King" shows the reader the importance of following ones heart. This lighthearted book is great fun as a read aloud allowing for big gestures and big voices.


Original language


Original publication date

2002 (as King & King)
2000 (as Koning & Koning)

Physical description

32 p.; 10.25 inches


1582460612 / 9781582460611


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