King Leonard is so rich that he can buy whatever he wants. Anything old or broken is thrown onto the growing pile of rubbish outside his castle. But one day something breaks that can’t be easily replaced. And what’s worse, King Leonard can’t find anyone who knows how to fix it!
Phoebe Swan’s debut picture book contains a strong environmental message, which can inspire children to find creative ways to reduce waste.
Here are some ideas on how to explore the book with your class!
Encourage the children to understand King Leonard’s feelings by asking these questions:
Show children the book’s cover and ask them what they think the story is about based on the title and what is happening in the illustration.
Is Leonard thinking about what he’s doing? How can you tell?
Out of all the things in the picture, what do you think he cares about the most?
Hold the book open on the first spread of the town, then flip to the spread of the town from the end of the book – talk about the differences you can all see, such as the lack of cars and the recycling bins that have been added to the streets.
You could also point out the townspeople, who are a good example of how communities will often work together to improve the area that they live in.
Talk about the first and last lines of the book; both sentences say that King Leonard has ‘everything he could wish for’, but by the final page, the meaning has changed slightly.
When that line appears on the first spread of the book, Leonard is shown surrounded by clutter that he isn’t interacting with. He is eating a cake (large enough to be shared) by himself.
When the line is echoed on the final spread of the book, we can see how his world has expanded; the pages are filled with happy townspeople and the white space around the illustration emphasises how clear the air has become.
Leonard learns that taking better care of things makes them last longer and results in less waste. This moral can lead to a discussion about the short-term happiness that comes from owning lots of toys and the long-term happiness that comes from helping others and sharing things with your community.
How else has Leonard benefited from changing his attitude about waste?
Do the children think that Leonard feels proud after he has managed to fix something?
Do you think that Leonard values his possessions more now?
Bring in empty yogurt pots, cereal boxes, jars, egg cartons and anything else you were planning to recycle.
Explain that King Leonard sent these things to your classroom because he couldn’t think of ways to re-use them and he was hoping that your class could help.
We’ve included printable letters from Leonard below, which you could use to make the activity more personal and interactive.
Discuss ways the items could be reused (eg a yogurt pot could be made into a bird feeder, used as a pot to grow a seedling, or it could be connected to another with string to make a telephone toy).
To extend this activity, you could turn your classroom into a ‘Repair Café’ and let the pupils upcycle the materials into fun gadgets and decorations!
You could make a display to show off the pupils’ creations. The link below includes a ‘Thank You’ letter from the king, which could be ‘delivered’ to the class a few days later and added to the display.
King Leonard craft tutorials (how to make a bird feeder or a wallet):
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