a trio of King Charles III picture books

Don your sparkly tiaras and ermine robes! Today we’re celebrating the upcoming coronation of King Charles III with three recently published picture books about the green-planet-loving, lunch-skipping, kilt-wearing, cheesy baked eggs aficionado Charles Philip Arthur George.

Our “sovereign sandwich” consists of one meaty nonfiction title nestled between two light hearted tales, sure to satisfy kids’ curiosity about just who this man is and why his coronation is such an important moment in history.

While you’re reading about these kingly books, help yourself to a plum (Charles’s favorite fruit), and egg soldiers (he eats a boiled egg every single day). Enjoy!


1. THE KING’S PANTS by Nicholas Allan (Andersen Press, 2023).

You know how kids giggle whenever the word ‘underwear’ or ‘underpants’ appears in a book? Well, British kids are similarly set off at the mere mention of ‘pants,’ since for them pants = underpants.

And there are a LOT of them in Nicholas Allan’s hilarious, irreverent yarn. The King, it seems, is quite a natty dresser. Not only does he own many crowns, he has drawers full of pants. One would, of course, need a pair of pants for every occasion: Everyday, Weekend, Coronation (he simply could NOT be crowned without those).

Well, one time when he goes on a trip, Cedric, the Keeper of the Pants, puts the King’s pants in a sack which gets mixed up with the Royal Mail sack. Chaos reigns when the following day the King’s subjects receive pants in their letter boxes instead of mail. Quelle surprise!

Undercover police were sent to uncover the underwear. Sniffer dogs were used to track them down!

After all the pants are recovered and laundered, the King decrees that many more pants should be made for him to avoid any future accidents. Among the additions: Peace and War pants, International, Posh Royal, Meeting the People. He even has Space Pants fitted with emergency air bags, and Organic Pants which are edible in emergencies. When he goes to Windsor or Balmoral, he wears his Castle Boxer Shorts (the working drawbridge in front is very useful).

Was all well? Not quite. The sovereign’s skivvies still baffle him. What to wear, what to wear? Cedric to the rescue: he puts all the pants in another sack so the King can pull out a random pair each morning. How he loves his daily surprise! Now, no one can ever be quite sure which pants are guarding the Crown Jewels. 😀

Allan’s illustration for a Charity Auction he initiated, where 24 artists and illustrators envisioned Charles’s royal coronation pants.

One more thing: when it comes to Charles, we needn’t ever ask the timeless question: “boxers or briefs?” According to Allan’s wacky pen-and-ink and watercolor illos, briefs rule the day (shhh! don’t tell anyone). All hail the King! (Coronation Activity Pack is here.)


2. KING CHARLES III: Celebrating His Majesty’s Coronation and Reign by Andrea Mills and Jennie Poh (DK/Penguin Random House, 2023).

This charmingly illustrated introduction to all things Charles is chock full of interesting and fascinating facts about the man who attended his own mother’s coronation when he was just four.

There are 15 double page spreads, each devoted to a different aspect of Charles’s life from birth, to his investiture as the Prince of Wales, to his time in the military, setting up the Prince’s Trust, on to his green initiatives, duties as leader of the Commonwealth, to his ascension to the throne.

Nuts-and-bolts basics are nicely balanced with lesser known tidbits about his family life and personal interests, giving readers a well rounded, humanized account of the new King. Information is presented in appealing layouts that include timelines, text boxes, diagrams, and, of course, Jennie Poh’s whimsical illustrations, a delight to behold. It’s like browsing through a fun scrapbook containing carefully curated snapshots of a remarkable life.

Children will especially enjoy the “Fun and Games” spread, detailing Charles’s interests in polo, skiing, and scuba diving, as well as the “Did You Know?” spread, where we learn that Charles can play three musical instruments (piano, trumpet, cello), that he belongs to a special club for magicians, has written a children’s book (The Old Man of Lochnagar), and even has a frog named after him. They’ll also appreciate that he’s an animal lover, and always carries a stash of nuts in his pocket to feed any squirrels he meets while strolling around his grounds.

I liked learning that Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms, that Highgrove is eco friendly, that Charles is big on gardening with his own wildflower meadow, kitchen and sundial gardens. He also has his own organic food brand (Duchy Originals), a range that includes “yummy biscuits, bread, fruit, herbs, and chutney.” All profits go to the King’s charities. 🙂

Charles was well ahead of his time when it came to climate change and addressing crucial issues such as endangered animals and ocean pollution. For many years, people thought he was a little bonkers for talking to his trees. Science has since proved him right: “the sound of wave vibrations from talking really do make plants grow bigger and faster!”

Perfect for ages 5-9, King Charles III is a truly majestic way to celebrate the reign of the 62nd British monarch.


3. THE KING’S HATS by Sheila May Bird and Mark Beech (Welbeck Flame, 2023).

The old saying, “Heavy is the head that wears the crown” is the premise of Bird’s affectionate story exploring Charles’ various roles as the new King.

Poor Charles finds the new crown he must wear “hot and tight.” It looked just right on his mother, but how will he manage? His wife kindly suggests that he retreat to his “happy place” to figure out what to do.

Charles heads to the garden, where his friend Tom the royal gardener reassures him that since a King does many things, he’s poised to wear many different kinds of hats. He could wear Tom’s sun hat while weeding, for example, and when it’s time to clean up, he could wear a shower cap in the bath.

Depending on where he visits and what he’ll be doing, there’s an appropriate hat to fit the bill: a hard hat for a construction site, a hairnet in a food factory, a rain hat on the farm, a helmet in a lifeboat, an apron, gloves and cap at the hospital, a feathered hat for a parade, a paper crown at parties.

And on those occasions when Charles must wear his crown, Tom reminds him that summoning up a little courage will enable him to bear it. This makes Charles feel much better, knowing that in time, he, too, will grow into his role as monarch, lessening his burden of worry.

Bird’s catchy rhyming text paired with Beech’s exuberant, scribbly, Quentin Blake-ish illos make for a tip top read. Such fun to see King Charles in these different scenarios (Beech has nailed his caricature), which will enable kids to consider another side of the usually composed, dignified ruler. A gentle reminder that no matter who we are, we all have doubts when faced with something new, and that leaders carry unique burdens. We’re all only human, after all, even a King. We tip our hats to him!


Before you go, enjoy a cup of Darjeeling (the King’s favorite) and a Duchy Organic Oaten Biscuit (this was the first product made for his organic foods brand). They have a nice nutty flavor and would be great with cheese.

We wish the new King well during his reign. It won’t be easy to wear so many hats or juggle that many pairs of pants, but we know he’ll rule with a style all his own. Pip pip hooray!


*Interior spreads from The King’s Pants, text and illustrations copyright © 2023 Nicholas Allan, published by Andersen Press. All rights reserved.

**Interior spreads from King Charles III, text and illustrations copyright © 2023 DK/Penguin Random House. All rights reserved.

***Interior spreads from The King’s Hats, text copyright © 2023 Sheila May Bird, illustrations © 2023 Mark Beech, published by Welbeck Flame. All rights reserved.

****Copyright © 2023 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

4 thoughts on “a trio of King Charles III picture books

  1. I guess I’m not surprised there are several books for children about their coming new king, wonder how long they’ve been planning them? Each one does look good, Jama, perfect for the young ones. However, I also wonder if the first one isn’t the best seller? Who wouldn’t giggle at the “pants” of the new Royal Highness! I giggled a lot with the mention of “which pants are guarding the Crown Jewels”. Thanks for the great reviews! Happy Tuesday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, there are many kids’ books published in honor of King Charles — these three caught my attention right away. I think you’re right about The King’s Pants — the author has been doing some good promotion for his book (he also wrote The Queen’s Knickers years ago). He painted a bookstore window and sent copies to Charles as well as Prince William’s three children. Check out this link:



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