Emperor's New Clothes: A Tale Set in China

Overview

Long ago in a province in China there lived an emperor whose greatest pleasure in life was to dress in new clothes.
So begins Demi's retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale about a proud emperor who does not see what is obvious until he hears the truth from a child.
Based upon several different translations of the original Danish story, Demi's tale is set in old provincial China. Filled with exquisite details, bright panoramas, and ...

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Overview

Long ago in a province in China there lived an emperor whose greatest pleasure in life was to dress in new clothes.
So begins Demi's retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale about a proud emperor who does not see what is obvious until he hears the truth from a child.
Based upon several different translations of the original Danish story, Demi's tale is set in old provincial China. Filled with exquisite details, bright panoramas, and golden hues that leap off a wealth of fold-out pages, this story lures readers into a magical place and time. The story follows the four seasons of the year and is packed with visual elements of Chinese culture for readers to pore over for hours.
Demi has captured in text and paintings all the majesty of China and all the magic that makes for the very best fairy tales. This elegant edition of a favorite story is sure to be cherished by all.

Two rascals sell a vain Chinese emperor an invisible suit of clothes.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
The classic Andersen tale of an emperor too proud to admit the obvious is set by Demi in old China. She has chosen to include as much of the culture as she can, with the elements explained in an author's note. Her text takes us through the seasons as the wily charlatans claim to be weaving magic clothes that only the clever can see. Of course the emperor's chancellor and minister "see" the wonder being woven. In the end, the emperor here never admits his folly. Demi tells the visual story in her typical style—very finely wrought figures against an almost blank background. Lots of red and gold with embroidered and brocade fabrics add a proper regal elegance. The page design includes a clever use of foldout pages, showing the emperor walking stiffly in a landscape with children, animals, his distant palace, and a sky full of exotic birds, all suggesting a classic scroll—a brilliant depiction. 2000, Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, Ages 7 to 10, $19.95. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
In a version that makes the well-known Hans Christian Andersen tale truly her own, Demi and her editors and designers have created a beautiful piece of book making. Packed with symbolism, the detailed, gold-trimmed paintings of clothing and elements of Chinese life provide much to look at and much to ponder. Following the seasons of the year, the story literally unfolds as double-folded pages are opened at key points, when the Imperial Minister, then the High Chancellor, and finally the Emperor himself all look upon the invisible clothing. Finally, as the Emperor steps out in public, two pages open out, creating a veritable procession of foolishness across a four-panel spread. In an author's note Demi explains some of the symbols she has used, and the meaning of the activities in the background. In addition, she uses the ingenious device of a screen in the tailor and weaver's workroom to provide pictures and captions explaining the meaning of many of the objects that are found in the decorations and clothing throughout the book. As always, Demi's precise drawings and rich colors, here painted over what appears to be textured cloth, give the book a jewel-like quality. 2000, Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster, Ages 7 to 10, $19.95. Reviewer: Linnea Hendrickson—Children's Literature
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Although Andersen's name does not appear in this book, it is a simple retelling of his classic tale. Demi's double-page illustrations are graceful and well designed and are executed in vivid colors, including gold. The pictures are filled with frolicsome children, animals, and birds; the backgrounds depict activities that symbolically relate to heaven, purity, and virtue such as weaving silk, the dragon dance, and kite flying. Several delicate gatefolds add little to the visual flow of the story, though toward the end of the tale, a pair of double fold-out pages of the emperor walking through the province in his amusing dragon-decorated boxers does provide a lovely four-page spread. Naomi Lewis's recent picture-book retelling (Candlewick, 1997), with illustrations by Angela Barrett, is more successful at conveying the irony and wit of the tale. Still, this is an elegant, colorful version of the old story.-Marilyn Iarusso, New York Public Library Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Demi sets her brief version of the Hans Christian Andersen chestnut in provincial Old China, suspending stout officials, gracefully gesturing onlookers, livestock, wild animals, and drifts of flowers, all drawn in ultra-fine detail, against backgrounds that seem limitlessly deep. The costumes are gorgeous, all vivid red, blue, and gold—even the Imperial undershorts, decorated with a sinuous dragon, are magnificent (children hoping for a naked emperor will be disappointed; steer them toward Anne Rockwell's rendition of the tale). Though neither the verbal nor visual narrative is much enhanced by most of the five foldouts, they do make the book all the more grandly sumptuous. Demi scatters traditional Chinese symbols of purity, keyed in an afterword, throughout, and if the Emperor is left looking more annoyed than chastened by that pesky child's eye-opening observation, it will still be plain to all readers that he understands who in his province is the biggest fool. (Picture book. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689830686
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Pages: 42
  • Sales rank: 383,225
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.60 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Demi is the award-winning creator of numerous books for children, including The Empty Pot; Buddha; The Dalai Lama; The Legend of Saint Nicholas; Gandhi, which was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book and received an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award; and Muhammad, which was named a Kirkus Reviews Editors’ Choice selection, a Booklist Editors’ Choice selection, one of the Booklist Top Ten Religion Books for Youth, and a Book Links “Lasting Connections” selection, and was cited in a Publishers Weekly starred review as a “timely, exceptionally handsome biography [that] serves as an excellent introduction to Islam.” Demi lives in Carnation, Washington.

Demi is the award-winning creator of numerous books for children, including The Empty Pot; Buddha; The Dalai Lama; The Legend of Saint Nicholas; Gandhi, which was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book and received an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award; and Muhammad, which was named a Kirkus Reviews Editors’ Choice selection, a Booklist Editors’ Choice selection, one of the Booklist Top Ten Religion Books for Youth, and a Book Links “Lasting Connections” selection, and was cited in a Publishers Weekly starred review as a “timely, exceptionally handsome biography [that] serves as an excellent introduction to Islam.” Demi lives in Carnation, Washington.

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