cover image The Emperor's Old Clothes

The Emperor's Old Clothes

Kathryn Lasky. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200384-5

For graduates of ""The Emperor's New Clothes,"" this genial spin on the classic story takes the perspective of a simple farmer, who dons the regal clothing that fell off the emperor's wagon. After the farmer tries on the royal garb, he takes a quick trip to town, scoffs at the naked, strutting emperor and returns home, where his fancy clothes not only impede his chores but make him the laughing stock of the barnyard. Lasky (previously paired with Catrow for She's Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head!) spins a good yarn and portrays the farmer's newfound vanity with gentle humor: ""How grand he felt, and how much better the view was from his new height. My animals back at the farm will hardly recognize me, Henry thought."" Catrow's caricatured watercolor illustrations exploit the contrast between the ornate finery and the distorted form of the farmer (his ears stick out at a 90-degree angle and his rear end is bulbous). With broad humor, author and artist make a strong case for the simple life. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)