In a long ago land lives a gentle king who happily reigns over all things small. He has all he needs and doesn’t want for more. Not so King Normous. Driven by greed, he raids every realm and conquers every empire, except one. For, as Normous soon learns, the loyalty of little things is a mighty power indeed.

Bil Lepp is the recipient of the 2014 PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing for an exceptional story illustrated in a picture book published in 2013.

The King of Little Things

After marching for days, King Normous and his armies at last neared the land of the King of Little Things. This would not be a fair fight. And that’s just the way the big king liked it.

As the enemy approached, the King of Little Things sent a message to his subjects. He had a plan and he needed their help.

And during the night…the little things went to work.

The next morning the soldiers found mealworms in their bread, chiggers in their underpants, and fungus between their toes.

Worse yet, there was nothing left to fight with. Termites had made dust heaps of their arrow shafts. Water droplets had worked their way into their gunpowder. And rust had ruined the cannons and catapults.

In a royal rage, King Normous called for his council.

“If we cannot defeat this king through might,” he roared, “then clearly we must trick him! We must cheat him. We must lie.”

“After all, a lie, no matter how small, is never a little thing.” Normous turned to his advisors. “Invite this charlatan to my tent under a flag of truce. And prepare the dungeon.”

The instant the King of Little Things entered the tent, small things recognized their master and fell at his feet.

Coins rolled out of the big king’s coffers. Jewels jumped from his crown. Buttons popped from his suspenders.

Normous stood in his underwear before the entire court. “Take this puny pretender to the castle!” he shrieked. “And toss him in the dungeon!”

The soldiers tried. But the dungeon keys were loyal to the King of Little Things and would not turn the lock. The nails recognized their king and sprang from the door to bow before him.

When Normous learned of this, he had the little king taken to the deepest, darkest cavern in the land.

He ordered the entrance sealed with a stone.

A BIG stone.


Excerpted from The King of Little Things by Bil Lepp, Illustrated by David T. Wenzel. Text © 2013 by Bil Lepp. Illustrations © 2013 by David T. Wenzel. Published by arrangement with Peachtree Publishers.

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