King for a Day

King for a Day

A picture book by Rukhsana Khan
Illustrated by Christiane Kromer
Published by Lee & Low
Spring 2014
32 pg, Hardcover
ISBN 9781600606595

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AR Quiz No. 163050 EN Fiction
IL: LG - BL: 3.9 - AR Pts: 0.5
AR Quiz Types: RP


A multicultural picture book set in Pakistan about a boy who has one day a year that he rules: the day of Basunt, the spring kite festival.

To see a video booktalk/tutorial on how to use King for a Day in your classroom see here (

To hear an audio through of the author talking about and reading from King for a Day click here

To see a video of a librarian/blogger reading the book click here

To read an interview with the illustrator Christiane Kromer please click here.

Awards & Recognition

  • South Asia Book Award 2015--Highly Commended Title

  • TD Top 20--Top 20 books in Canada for Summer Reading Club

  • Cooperative Children's Book Centre Best Picture Books of 2014

  • Nominated Connecticut Nutmeg Award 2016

  • Huffington Post Best Picture Books of 2014 - Honorable Mention (most touching/heart warming category)

  • Best Multicultural Books of 2014 -- Center for the Study Multicultural Children's Literature

  • Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books of the Year 2014

  • Kirkus Best Books of the Year 2014

  • Bank Street College Best Books of the Year for Children and Young Adults "outstanding merit" book 2014

  • Selected as a Junior Library Guild Choice 2013

  • Nominated for Maine Chickadee Award 2011-2012

  • Semi-finalist Irma Simonton Black Award 2014


Set in Pakistan during Basant, “the most exciting day of the year,” this story focuses on the strength and resourcefulness of a child in a wheelchair as he navigates the skies at the spring kite festival. Perched on the rooftop and assisted by his brother and sister, Malik launches his small but swift creation, named Falcon, into the stratosphere, where it defeats both of the kites that belong to the bully next door...Displaying another side of his personality, the “King” concludes his day of warfare with a secret act of kindness. Krömer’s inventive compositions are a visually exciting match for Khan’s introduction to an appealing event (originally published in Canada in 2001 with art by different illustrators). This story soars.

--Kirkus Starred Review--

...Khan takes us right to the city of Lahore, Pakistan, where a young boy, who happens to be in a wheelchair, is preparing for the festival. It is his point of view from which this story is told. Never is the fact that he’s in a wheelchair a Big Deal or a Huge Plot Point or a Reason to Teach Us a Message, which is refreshing...The boy is ready. He secures the help of his siblings, and he’s determined to become king of Basant. His goals are very specific, too. There is a bully next door. In the past, he’s hit our protagonist, and he’s thrown stones at his sister. The boy sets out to beat this bully in the kite-flying competition. Never is this neighbor redeemed, which I also find refreshing...“Exquisite” is the word the official Kirkus review uses to describe the mixed-media collages of Christiane Krömer. That pretty much nails it. This is the first time I’ve seen her artwork, though it’s not her first published picture book, and her textured, lively illustrations nearly leap off the pages. She uses fabrics, yarn, cut and torn paper, ribbons, strings, what look like pencil drawings, and much more. She also puts to use varied perspectives; in one of the closing spreads, we see the narrator looking down from the rooftop to see the neighbor bully the young girl. It’s a visually engaging book, and Krömer is an illustrator to keep an eye on. A triumphant tale of the king of the skies...

--Julie Danielson's Blog: Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast--

Spring has arrived in Lahore, Pakistan, and the celebration of Basant ushers it in with an annual kite-flying contest. Young Malik plans to win the self-proclaimed title of “king of Basant” by capturing and/or setting free more kites than anyone else...Mixed-media collage illustrations consist of an intriguing combination of cut paper, floss, yarn, cloth, and pencil sketches. Varying perspectives include ground level, balcony level, and kite’s-eye views of the action. The breezy conditions are evident in the soaring kites, billowing curtains, and Malik’s sister’s clothing...

--School Library Journal starred review--

Using a fantastic medley of mixed-media collage that incorporates traditional Pakistani fabric, handmade paper, burlap, silk, and ribbon, Krömer skillfully captures the textures and colors of basant, the spring kite-flying festival in Lahore. During basant, the people of Lahore move to their rooftops to enjoy the spectacle of a sky filled with kites and birds, an impressive city skyline, their community, and the renewal of spring. Here, a boy in a wheelchair overpowers the neighborhood bully with his kite-flying savvy and keen, compassionate eye. While this is undeniably grounded in a Lahori tradition, it is also a universal tale of one boy’s good-natured, competitive spirit and desire to shine, if only for a day. This story could be paired with Jacqueline Woodson’s Each Kindness (2012) to spark discussion about being a bystander. Grades 2-4.