ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

King of Kings by Susan Hill Children's Book Review

Updated on August 26, 2011
King of Kings by Susan Hill is one of my all-time-favorite non-traditional children's books.
King of Kings by Susan Hill is one of my all-time-favorite non-traditional children's books.
King of Kings
King of Kings
The paperback edition is published by Walker Books, Ltd. A hardcover version is published by Candlewick Press.

King of Kings by Susan Hill (ISBN 0744543266) is a Christmas picture book set in England. The tale is the simple story of a widower named Mr. Hegarty who experiences wonder and awe on Christmas when he finds and saves an abandoned infant at the doors of a derelict church. Though not expressed in so many words, the author's description of the chill night underscores the infant's grave circumstances. Mr. Hegarty takes the baby to the hospital, and leaves him in the hands of the nurses. He returns early on Christmas morning to be with the orphaned baby.

This serious story has an honest and subdued character, and is told in a simple, modest style that is befitting of the somber subject matter of an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve.

Susan Hill's depiction of Mr. Hegarty is dignified and reserved, making Mr. Hegarty an appealing and likable character instead of someone to be pitied. I can't read King of Kings without shedding a tear! Mr. Hegarty is a lonely man who lives in a run-down area of an industrial port city on the coast of England. He takes comfort in the companionship of his two pets, Cat and a bandy-legged dog named Jacko, whom he has adopted. He lives in the same house he was married in and follows simple routines. Although his home was once in a nice area, the docks and wharves have crept into his neighborhood and brought with them the shabby presence of decay. Mr. Hegarty does not feel sorry for himself, but Hill's storytelling leaves no room for mistaking the loneliness this half-forgotten widower feels on Christmas Eve.

The few presents he receives are from a kind-hearted neighbor who has left them on the doorstep before joining family elsewhere in the city. In spite of the Christmas band playing on the street corner, and the random kindness of a waitress who gives him a mincemeat pie "on the house." What is left unsaid in this story is as important as what is said. Mr. Hagerty lives out his life with dignity and perhaps a sense of resignment.

This book would work as a short story without pictures, but the pictures in King of Kings add to the pleasure of reading this touching story. John Lawrence is the award-winning illustrator of the story. His black ink and watercolor illustrations are somber and almost dreary, using a palette of browns mixed with grey. These pictures honor the serious tone of the story and are beautifully rendered. Jacko the bandy-legged dog is also a cute and playful presence that livens up this somber story.

This is one of my favorite Christmas stories. The story isn't over-the-top, and is a touching reminder to reach out to others during the holiday season and during any time of the year. King of Kings is, on another level, an allegory of Christ's birth in an unusual modern day setting. By saving the small baby boy, Mr. Hegarty himself finds a renewed life and hope. I particularly like this Christmas story because it alludes to the central religious focus of Christmas—the nativity, or birth of Christ—without retelling that story.

If you are looking for a wonderful story to add to your collection of Christmas books, this one is a must-have. Susan Hill, the author, though well-known in Britain for her short stories, doesn't have the popular following of other authors of religious children's books, like Max Lucado, who wrote The Crippled Lamb. You can read my review of that story by following the link. However, I think that King of Kings is on par with this other popular writer's stories and has a simple honesty that can only be found in realistic fiction.

This story was published by Candlewick Press, a publisher of Christian children's books.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)