cover image The Principal's New Clothes

The Principal's New Clothes

Stephanie Calmenson. Scholastic, $13.95 (36pp) ISBN 978-0-590-41822-5

``Mr. Bundy is the principal of P.S. 88. He is also the sharpest dresser in town.'' So begins this marvelous update of Andersen's The Emperor's New Clothes. The deliciously evil Moe and Ivy approach Mr. Bundy about a new suit made of cloth invisible to those who are stupid or unfit for their jobs. Lie upon lie builds up because no one (including Mr. Bundy) dares to admit to not seeing the fabric. On the day Mr. Bundy plans to show off his new duds, he arrives at school in his very chic underwear. A kindergartner finally calls out the truth, much to everybody's relief. Mr. Bundy is inundated with clothes to wear and, even in his hodge-podge of garments, he still looks sharp. Calmenson's rendition of this beloved tale of self-aggrandizement is particularly fun because of its contemporary setting. The ending is a kinder one since the principal joins in the fun of his predicament. In her appealing watercolors, Brunkus gives the bad guys wicked eyebrows and nearly everyone wears outrageous clothing. A lighthearted poke at authority and vanity. Ages 3-8. (Sept.)