cover image The King Has Horse's Ears

The King Has Horse's Ears

Peggy Thomson. Simon & Schuster, $12.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-64953-1

Thomson and Small do admirable justice to the parable about the king who attempts to keep his unorthodox ears a secret. It is the king's barber, sworn to silence under pain of death, who suffers most. Seeking a safe outlet for the secret, the barber whispers it to some reeds. When a court piper repairs his flute with those very reeds, the secret is trumpeted to the world, during the king's own wedding. However, the revelation is far less calamitous than the king had feared, for his features inspire emulation, not ridicule. The moral of the story? Some secrets are better when they're shared. The skillful, wry telling is enhanced by illustrations that are equally adept at humorously exaggerated expression and telling background detailsthe litter of candy wrappers that surround the chocolate-loving king, a ``to do'' list for the royal wedding that includes such comic absurdities as ``cake for 250,000.'' In all, this is marvelously silly wisdom that, like the king's secret, deserves to be shared. Ages 4-8. (Sept . )