cover image King Louie’s Shoes

King Louie’s Shoes

D.J. Steinberg, illus. by Robert Neubecker. Beach Lane, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4814-2657-2

Louis XIV of France commands the largest army in Europe, lives in the biggest palace, and gives the biggest parties. But there’s a hiccup, and Steinberg (First Grade, Here I Come!) doesn’t mince words: “King Louie (which is how you say ‘Louis’ in French) was a shrimp.” Neubecker (Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing), clearly having fun drawing his characters’ Baroque get-ups, portrays the monarch at a humbling height disadvantage compared to the rest of his court, which should win the Sun King instant sympathy with the book’s target audience. With every resource at his disposal, the king tries to add inches by constructing skyscraper thrones, donning gigantic wigs, and wearing towering platform shoes that launch a fashion craze, but he learns the hard way that it’s better to be respected as a sovereign than to intimidate by way of stature. Readers will pick up some valuable lessons, too: history is fun, size doesn’t matter, and grownups do the darnedest things. A closing list of facts (14, naturally) adds a bit of historical heft. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (July)