cover image The Emperor's New Clothes

The Emperor's New Clothes

Hans Christian Andersen, S. T. Mendelson. Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, $7.5 (1pp) ISBN 978-1-55670-232-7

This fresh rendering of Andersen's oft-told tale wittily underlines the ``unforgivably silly'' nature of the duped emperor and his fawning court. Mendelson's ( Stupid Emilien ) spare text twinkles with a mischievous irony (``Once upon a time there was an emperor who was much loved. Mostly by himself''), echoed in the humorously resplendent artwork: the emperor, a gorilla, consults with a council of chameleons; weasel spies in dark glasses are everywhere; and veiled harem seals shimmy sweetly. Luxuriously swathed, the emperor awaits delivery of a ``rich and rare'' new ensemble from his tailor, a rat famous for fashions that ``can only be seen by those of highest distinction.'' When the emperor parades forth clad in nothing but a girdle ``there arose only a shocked silence''--until a child blurts out the obvious truth. Mendelson's telling is both fun and hard-hitting, and while some of his sophisticated satire may go unnoticed by young readers, they will warm to his animal characters, his bountiful palette and the ornate opulence of his artwork. The final scenes of the near naked gorilla are a delight. Ages 6-up. (Sept.)