King Midas loved gold so much he wished everything he touched would turn to gold. But what a terrible curse it became when his wish was granted and everything he touched his food, his dog. . . and his beloved daughter instantly changed into cold and lifeless matallic objects.
Lynne Reid Banks has re-created the ever-popular legend of King Midas into an exciting story that brings to life the reality of having greedy and thoughtless wishes come true.
About the Author
Lynne Reid Banks is a bestselling author for both children and adults. She grew up in London and became first an actress and then one of the first woman TV reporters in Britain before turning to writing. She now has more than forty books to her credit. Her classic children's novel, The Indian in the Cupboard, has sold more than ten million copies worldwide and was made into a popular feature film. Lynne lives with her husband in Dorset, England.
Jos. A. Smith, illustrator of Hurry! by Jessie Haas, Ogres! Ogres! Ogres!: A Feasting Frenzy from A to Z by Nicholas Heller, and A Creepy Countdown by Charlotte Huck, lives in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
King Midas was nothing special, as kings go. He hadn't got a particularly large kingdom, just a small one, and it wasn't especially rich or poor. Just ordinary, really. Like the King himself, until a certain day in his life, on which everything changed.
But until that day, things jogged along for him quite normally. Of course, you might not think it normal to live in a small but charming palace surrounded by beautiful grounds, to have to sign papers all the time, to wear a heavy crown quite often, and to have dozens of servants running around to do your bidding. But that's normal for a king, and King Midas was quite used to it and thought nothing of it.
He hadn't got a queen.
He'd had one, once, but sadly, she'd died. The King was terribly grieved. She had been. so beautiful -- a shining golden beauty who made the sun and the stars come out for him. He kept a lock of her hair, the color of summer pollen, in a locket around his neck, and would take it out and smooth it in his fingers to keep it shiny and alive-looking.
But he had something better than that left from his happy younger days: a little daughter named Delia.
She looked rather like her mother -- the same bright brown eyes and sun-spun golden hair, and lively, loving ways. King Midas simply adored her, and made a great fuss of her, giving her most of what she asked for and thinking of all kinds of lovely surprises for her.
But oddly enough, she wasn't spoiled. She went to school in the village near the palace, like other children, and was quite ordinary, too, in a way. Of course, a princess can never be entirelyordinary, but one nice thing about her: she never boasted or gave herself airs. She was a very nice girl, really, which made what happened to her all the worse. She simply didn't deserve it.
As to whether the King deserved to be the cause of this awful thing that happened to his beloved child, that's another matter. There's no denying that he had a fault. Who hasn't? But this one was bad enough to lead him into the most dire trouble.
He allowed to grow in him a great desire, which came to rule his whole life.
He thought nobody knew about it. But little things gave him away to those quick-witted enough to understand.
For instance, one day some large oil paintings that he'd ordered from abroad arrived in big, flat packing cases. He was very excited, and as soon as they were unpacked, he called Delia.
"You must see my new paintings, my darling," he cried cheerfully. "You've got such an eye, I can't wait to hear what you think of them!"
Delia had no more "eye" than most people, but she did like paintings. She loved making up stories about them. So she hurried after her father to one of the long galleries in the palace.
"I must supervise the hanging," said, the King importantly.
"Daddy, you know you've done away with capital punishment!" teased Delia.
The King laughed uproariously. He was in a very good mood.
There were already several servants up ladders, and several more below, with the first great canvas in their hands, ready to hand it up to those above. The King, who had arrived beaming with pleasure, took one look at the picture and flew into one of his rare, but alarming, rages.
"Take them away!" he roared. "I won't have them! I don't want them -- not like that!"
One of his personal servants, named Biffpot, the only one who dared speak to him when he was angry, murmured, "But, Sire, the paintings are very fine!"
"The paintings? The PAINTINGS? Who's talking about the paintings? It's the FRAMES I can't abide! GET THOSE FRAMES OUT OF MY SIGHT I "
"But, Daddy, what's wrong with the frames?" Delia exclaimed anxiously. "They're beautiful, all carved and gilded --"
"Gilded! Precisely, my darling! You have put your finger on it I They are gilded I I would rather, far rather, have plain wooden ones than these -- these -- these pretenders! I tell you I will not be lied to -- not even by a picture frame!"
And he stormed away, leaving the servants agape and Delia close to tears.
Later, in the servants' hall, there was much gossip, and not for the first time.
"The King's got this thing about fakes," the butler remarked knowingly, "What they call a fixation.
"No," said the manservant who had been trying to hang up the picture. "He's got a thing about lies. And I believe it's called an obsession."
But Biffpot, who was closer to the King than the others, being his personal valet, shook his head sadly.
"His Majesty," he said, "is indeed obsessed AND fixated. But not with the things you mentioned. It is much, much more serious than that."
"So what is it?" asked the others. But Biffpot only shook his head in a worried way and wouldn't answer directly.
"I will say only this," he said. "It is one of the most serious obsessions anyone can have, and No Good Will Come of It."
How right he was.
So Biffpot knew about the King's desire. And soon one other person knew, because Midas told her -- Delia.
When she was at school, and he had finished his signing for the day and had nothing much to distract him, he would walk about the palace and the gardens, with his hands behind his back and his head down on his chest, feeling deeply depressed. No, it was more like feeling desperately hungry. Only what he was hungry for wasn't food.The Adventures of King Midas. Copyright © by Lynne Banks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.