cover image The Emperor's New Clothes

The Emperor's New Clothes

Hans Christian Andersen. Dutton Books, $14.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-525-44611-8

Taking full advantage of the intrinsic humor of Andersen's tale, Byrd has created busy, exuberant pictures featuring a menagerie of animals. The wonderfully foppish emperor is a stately lion, who wears a gold earring and sports costumes of dazzling colors and intricate patterns--until his final moment of vainglory, of course, when he parades through the town in his newly ``woven'' clothes. The scoundrel weavers are aptly depicted as ultimately sly foxes, also splendidly bedecked. The illustrator's crowning touch is the collection of amazed expressions on the faces of the townsfolk--animals all--lining the streets and hanging out of windows to gape at the emperor as he struts by ``with head held high proudly.'' Levinson ( Watch the Stars Come Out ; I Go with My Family to Grandma's ) retells this classic story with fitting understatement, her dialogue and descriptions imbued with grace. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)