Monday, April 18, 2011

The King Who Rained

Fred Gwynne, star of the Munsters, wrote a series of pictures books for children that introduced children to the ideas of homonyms and idioms. The King Who Rained was published in 1970 and it was one of the first introductions I had to homonyms as a child. The narrator is a child who is telling the reader about information her father has told her. The illustrations help the reader to see how the child understands what the father has said. Having misinterpreted a few of my parents’ expressions, I fell in love with this book when my teacher read it to me. The book opens with the title expression. "Daddy says there was a king who rained for forty years." The picture shows a king in the position of a cloud with rain pouring out. The child not knowing that rain and reign are homonyms translates the term into something she can understand.

A Chocolate Moose for Dinnerdiscusses more complicated expressions like gorilla warfare and car pools. When I have used this series, I rarely had to explain the expressions in the King who Rained. However, some of the expressions in a Chocolate Moose required some explanation, as not all children were familiar with the terms used.

In A Little Pigeon Toadwe are introduced to Mom. The little girl tells us, "Mommy says Daddy is a little pigeon toad." The picture is a blend of pigeon and toad. From what my research indicates, this book is currently out of print, so you will need to find a used copy or borrow the book from the library.

In looking for information for this blog, I discovered there is another book that I have not had a chance to read The Sixteen Hand Horse. This book also seems to be out of print. This is now on my library list. I thought I had read all the books in the series. It will be interesting to explore another one.

One of the most common follow up activities for this book is to create your own artwork to show how expressions can be misunderstood. Students can get very creative. With technology, the ability to create has expanded greatly. While schools are generally limited to a unit, homeschoolers often have the time to continue to add to the project as they encounter new expressions. There is a possibility to make a sizeable collection.

King Who Rained Free Video


  1. Oh Aidan has an absolute BLAST with homonyms. We usually let him play around with the words, while explaining the differences, too. :)

  2. What a fun way to introduce kids to the idiosyncrasies of language. I guess in the future we'll need Text Speak for Seniors.