King Midas lives at our house these days, but since he is at school right now, possessions are not turning to gold. The royal robe, which used to be a blanket, awaits his majesty's return via the yellow chariot. Exactly when did Midas arrive? Shortly after the first ten or so readings of Kathryn Hewitt's picture book King Midas and the Golden Touch; Hewitt based her story on Nathaniel Hawthorne's telling of the Greek myth. When I picked out the book at the library, I had no idea what a hit it would be. Another mythological subject, the Minotaur, was met with polite lack of enthusiasm. Maybe that one was too gory. You got me.
Hewitt uses wit retelling the familiar story of "A king who wishes for the golden touch is faced with its unfortunate consequences." Adult readers will see sly references to paintings by Monet and Vermeer, among others, in Hewitt's own watercolor-and-goache illustrations. (If you read this one, check in and tell me how many other artists you find. I counted five.) For a standard-length picture book (32 pages), King Midas is fairly text-heavy, so I'm recommending it for children aged 6 to 10, but I'm warning you: get ready to welcome the mini-monarch.
King Midas and the Golden Touch
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Retold and illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987