The Emperor's Cool Clothes

The Emperor's Cool Clothes

by Lee Harper
Even a penguin has a hard time being cool in this hilarious adaptation of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”


Even a penguin has a hard time being cool in this hilarious adaptation of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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–loving 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—though it's not clear whether the in-jokes undermine the prestige of fashionable culture or enhance it. Ages. 4–8. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews

Andersen's classic tale gets a humorously "cool" update in an imaginary land in which emperor penguins, polar bears, seals, walruses and albatross coexist.

The emperor, fighting childhood memories of being teased, decides that once he becomes ruler he will achieve total coolness. His wardrobe is the means to his end, but coolness is deeper than fabric. Dissatisfied with the offerings in the local clothing shops (Cold Navy, Albatross & Fish), it is no surprise when a new shop, Two Rogues Cool Clothes, catches his eye. The two rogues promise clothing invisible to anyone not as cool as the emperor, setting in motion the lies that lead to his naked parade. As in the original, the ending is a bit abrupt. Harper's version also adds a bit of ambiguity as to what the emperor may have learned from this experience. But while the ending may leave readers with a less-than-cool impression, the illustrations just may make up for it. Humorous details are scattered throughout, some seemingly for the benefit of adult audiences. He uses bright colors in his watercolor-and-pencil artwork and ably conveys the sad fact that the emperor's clothes, no matter how nice, cannot mask his lack of cool.

The visual humor makes this a winner, and adults will appreciate the easy segue into conversations about honesty and what defines "cool" that are sure to follow. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Amazon Childrens Publishing
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.70(w) x 10.60(h) x 0.40(d)
AD520L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

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