The White Ravens Database

Presented by   Internationale Jugendbibliothek / International Youth Library

German / Germany

Der Kartoffelkönig

(The potato king)

Niemann, Christoph (text/illus.)
Berlin: Jacoby & Stuart, 2013. – [28] p.
ISBN 978-3-941087-49-1

Prussia  | History 1774  | Potato  | Non-fiction  | Picture book

Reading age: 5+

White Ravens issue: 2014


What Christoph Niemann presents here is as logical as it is ingenious! A book about Frederick II (“Old Fritz”), King of Prussia, and how he managed to literally make the potato palatable to his subjects in 1774 – illustrated with potato prints. The visual language, which plays with comic-book elements, is both simple and exaggerated. The choice of colours, for example, follows a symbolic code – with the king being red, of course. The pictures are more than mere decoration, they are necessary for the plot and narration because text and illustrations interlock. As a hybrid of picture book and non-fiction book, the work sports a tone that is reminiscent of anecdotes and fairy tales. The book itself suggests to readers that “this story may only be a legend”, but its purpose lies not in checking the validity of this legend. Rather it strives to show how history and stories evolve and how they remain influential throughout centuries as part of a collective knowledge.