King Alice by Matthew Cordell
Hello, Matthew Cordell! I’m waving at you from Naperville, Illinois. Soon many kids in the surrounding area will flush ice cubes down the toilet and will put on their pajamas inside out in hopes of a SNOW DAY. What’s your favorite (or least favorite) thing about a Snow Day?
Matthew Cordell: Ha! I wish I’d known about those Snow Day tricks. Maybe I would’ve had more snow days growing up. I love to look outside the window and watch the snow fall. I love how snow completely covers everything and changes the landscape. I love playing in the snow with my kids. There’s not much I don’t love about that first Snow Day of the year. However… it’s those end-of-winter, trapped-inside, never-ending days of Snow Days that make me want to never to see another Snow Day again!
Is King Alice based on a Snow Day you personally experienced?
Matthew Cordell: Yes it is! One snowy day, when my daughter was about 5 years old, the two of us were looking for something to do or play indoors. By that age, she knew all about how I made books, so she had the idea that we could make a book together. She’d draw and color some of it, and I’d draw and color some of it, and we’d both work on the words too. She was super into The Wizard of Oz movie at that time, so we made a sort of dad and daughter slapped-together Wizard of Oz book. It was a lot of fun, and the whole experience inspired me to make a book ABOUT the making of a book. And I wanted to weave in lots of determined, creative, headstrong kid humor and lots of loving, accommodating but exhausted parent humor in there too. At its heart, it’s really a day-in-the-life of this family, focusing on the loving relationship between Dad and Alice. Or… a Snow Day in the life, I suppose.
What would we see if we visited your studio?
Matthew Cordell: I feel like most days, I’m just trying to keep it together in my studio. I’ve often got more than one book cooking at a time. I’ve got emails coming in left and right that need to be answered. My studio is in my house, so my kids (or their toys) are not often far away. It’s typically very cluttered. I sometimes stop what I’m doing and clean and organize and put stuff away. But only when there’s a free pocket of time. Lately, there’s not been a free pocket of time! Help!
Please finish these sentence starters:
King Alice’s book trailer has a two-line summary that I think perfectly captures the essence of the book and the essence of Alice. “An ordinary day in the life of a family… is anything but ordinary. Especially under the rule of King Alice.”
Story is a day in the life of, I’d wager, many families out there. It’s fun, messy, full of love, and ultimately exhausting.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me why is Alice the “King” and not the “Queen”? When my daughter was Alice’s age--and many kids around that same age that I’ve observed--she wasn’t as hung up on gender and gender roles in her playtime as we adults can be. She had favorite superheroes and characters and she always wanted to pretend that she was those characters. It didn’t matter to her if it was a boy or man character. She was going to BE that character. Alice is aware that the King is at the top of the chain of command. She knows that being a King also means you have to be a man. But she rejects that concept completely, and she WILL be the King on this day. That’s something I love about Alice. That’s something I love about kids.
Borrow King Alice from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.