cover image The King’s Golden Beard

The King’s Golden Beard

Klaas Verplancke. mineditionUS/Russo, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-66265-039-0

This clever, biting little fable looks on as a vain ruler passes a series of laws to protect “his kingly self and his beautiful beard.” Readers can’t see the king; luxuriant, silvery-blond hair covers his body, a creepy red-lipped smile visible through the thicket. Soldiers with stick arms and legs rake the beard and carry it reverently. The king proclaims that ordinary subjects are not permitted beards—rule breakers will be “cut into a thousand pieces with a pinchy pair of nail scissors!” In dark, stylish before-and-after spreads, animate and inanimate subjects show the law’s consequences: a broom loses its bristles, a pirate turns out to be naked behind a once-ample blue beard, and a cactus loses its spines. At last, the monarch’s beard grows all the way around the world and returns to annoy the kingly presence, with terrible consequences (or just deserts, depending upon the reader’s take). Verplancke skewers narcissism and willful ignorance, too, as the ruler’s belief that the Earth is flat interferes with his understanding that the invading beard might, in fact, be his own. Ages 4–8. [em](Mar.) [/em]