cover image The Emperor's New Clothes: A Tale Set in China

The Emperor's New Clothes: A Tale Set in China

Demi. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $19.95 (42pp) ISBN 978-0-689-83068-6

Set in old China, Demi's (The Nightingale) adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen classic is as opulent as the vain emperor himself might wish for, with lots of gold ink and five foldout panels. The lean text supports the art but does not compete with it, leaving readers free to lose themselves in Demi's beguiling panoramas. As the artist explains in an endnote, her paintings incorporate traditional Chinese symbols, particularly those of purity and virtue. Readers will want to go back and scrutinize the details so harmoniously worked into each painting, from the elaborate patterns on the characters' clothing to background scenes of the springtime weaving of silk and the summertime flying of kites. The foldouts, however, are a disappointment--most of them interrupt rather than extend Demi's compositions. The exception is a climactic double gatefold spread chronicling the scowling emperor, dressed only in a gold undershirt and red undershorts adorned with the image of a dragon, as he stubbornly marches through the countryside in his new ""garments."" The more closely kids look, the more they will find. Ages 7-10. (May)