'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Review: The Emperor's New Clothes Horse

I just love it when a picture book is different - both in the storyline sense and image sense. The inspiration for this story may not be new, but the way in which is has been retold, and its striking imagery, makes it as original as they come.

Author Tony Wilson has reinvented the pride-stricken Emperor with a highly imaginative take on this classic tale. You see, the Emperor has won every single horse racing race - except the coveted Cristobel Cup. He wants to win this race - and he wants to win it bad.

Enter two foreign horse trainers who take it upon themselves to announce they have the finest race horse that ever lived. They also announce that anyone who cannot see the majesty in this horse is but a low-brow loser. Only those of the highest ilk and breeding can see the merit of this magical horse - and the fact that it's a dead cert for the Cristobel Cup.

Of course, the Emperor, being of the very highest breed and ilk, sees the horse's merit straight away. But what of low-brow Frankie the Stablehand? Telling it like it is, he can't help but openly admit his misgivings over the odd-looking horse . . . and as the clothes horse gets set to race, word soon spreads that maybe this horse - just maybe, this horse is a dud.

This is a truly funny book - with laugh out loud moments and a dry, brilliant ending. Sue deGennaro's stunning illustrations are some of my favourites this year. Using delicate shapes, lines and colours, her images remind me of 1920s cartoons à la the Original Mickey Mouse . . . I can just imagine them coming to life and bopping to some flapper tune as they strut all over the book's pages.

A must-snaffle.

Title: The Emperor's New Clothes Horse
Author: Tony Wilson
Illustrator: Sue deGennaro
Publisher: Scholastic, $26.99 RRP
Publication Date: May 2012
Format: Hard cover
ISBN: 9781742830452
For ages: 4 - 12
Type: Picture Book