cover image The Emperor's Cool Clothes

The Emperor's Cool Clothes

Lee Harper. Marshall Cavendish, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7614-5948-4

Once Harper (Snow! Snow! Snow!) decides to set this familiar fairy tale in the polar regions (mixing up the penguins of Antarctica with the igloos of the Arctic, purists will note), the cool jokes just keep on coming. The emperor, a squat emperor penguin whose belt buckle says "EMPS," and his two hip hop fashion%E2%80%93loving subordinates, Frostbite the polar bear and Tusks the walrus, are hookwinked by a pair of sea lions, the devious Paul and Radford Rogue, who tell the emperor, "Our clothes are made with a special formula that makes them invisible to anyone who's not totally cool like you." The Rogues use the advance from the royal platinum card to do some shopping of their own. The main street of the polar kingdom features Nordicstrom and Cold Navy; familiar-looking arches and mermaids embellish the characters' drinks. It's a zippy parody, and Harper does a good job of linking the emperor's weakness to kids' need to wear the right clothes%E2%80%94though it's not clear whether the in-jokes undermine the prestige of fashionable culture or enhance it. Ages. 4%E2%80%938. (Sept.)