King Hugo's Huge Ego

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Overview

From a master of visual comedy comes the royally satisfying tale of a head swollen out of proportion and a blowhard brought down to earth.

Hugo is a tiny king with a very large ego. But when he mistreats a villager who also happens to be a sorceress, the spell she casts causes his head to literally swell. The more he boasts, the bigger it gets, until it finally topples the mini monarch right off his castle! Who will cut this royal pain down to size? And, more important, will ...

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Overview

From a master of visual comedy comes the royally satisfying tale of a head swollen out of proportion and a blowhard brought down to earth.

Hugo is a tiny king with a very large ego. But when he mistreats a villager who also happens to be a sorceress, the spell she casts causes his head to literally swell. The more he boasts, the bigger it gets, until it finally topples the mini monarch right off his castle! Who will cut this royal pain down to size? And, more important, will anyone live happily ever after? Chris Van Dusen’s hilarious story is matched only by his outrageous illustrations. Together, they make for a picture book that is sometimes fairy tale, sometimes cautionary tale, and always laugh-out loud funny.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Long ago, when people spoke/ with words like ‘thou' and ‘thee,' " a Napoleonic figure (in attitude and physical stature) named King Hugo ruled supreme. While his subjects think he's a joke, they have no choice but abjection: they bow low when he passes by and pretend to listen his "Speech of Adoration," a weekly hours-long "boring buzz/ of how mighty and magnificent/ King Hugo thought he was." Comeuppance takes the form of a comely, feisty peasant maid named Tessa, who, unbeknownst to the king, is also a sorceress. "Let's see if all your arrogance/ can fit inside your head," she says, and sure enough, "his head kept bloating,/ bulging bigger every day" with each narcissistic act, until he looks like a bobble head doll on steroids. A life lesson and true love tie up the loose ends, but not before readers are treated to a terrific mélange of satire, slapstick, and caricature, all served up with expert comic timing. Van Dusen (The Circus Ship) may be puncturing the myth of infallible monarchy, but readers will have no trouble pledging obeisance to his comic majesty. Ages 3–6. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
Readers are treated to a terrific mélange of satire, slapstick, and caricature, all served up with expert comic timing. Van Dusen (The Circus Ship) may be puncturing the myth of infallible monarchy, but readers will have no trouble pledging obeisance to his comic majesty. -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Jolly rhymes tell a tale of "long ago," when a small king named Hugo thinks very highly of himself. Believing that he is wonderful, he makes his subjects bow to him as he strides cockily by. Every Friday morning, all his subjects must assemble to listen to him speak for hours on his magnificence. One day, as he is driving down the road, a girl named Tessa, carrying a heavy load, blocks his golden coach. She does not want to step aside and bow. So the king orders the coach to bump her off the road. Angry Tessa casts a spell on King Hugo. What happens as his head swells to match his pride makes for very funny consequences and a surprise happy ending. This original fairy tale is brightly painted in gouache on large single and double pages in cartoon style. Much of the humor is in the details: even the sheep kneel as the king drives by and the royal canine wears his own gold crown, while both castle and countryside are all filled with them. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—King Hugo is a mini monarch (he's three foot three) who thinks very highly of himself. He makes his subjects bow to him as he extols his magnificence throughout the kingdom. One day his royal coach careens by a woman working along the road and sends her into a ditch. She just happens to be a sorceress and casts a spell on him. Each time he begins to brag, his head grows a tad bigger. When he topples from the top of the castle and rolls like a boulder into the valley, he once again meets the sorceress, who reveals her curse. To prove she is the creator of his misfortune, she allows all the haughty things he has said to explode from his head. Returning to his original appearance, he realizes what a fool he had been and humbly apologizes. "What happened next was kismet/yet truly unforeseen:/he became a better man,/and she became a queen!" This enchanting story in verse will appeal to readers who can laugh at the foolhardy king while enjoying his bizarre transformation. Children will revel at the fanciful illustrations and celebrate when the braggart receives his comeuppance. The gouache illustrations demand attention and are rich in comedic detail with a fairy-tale quality. This is a great group read-aloud that offers opportunity for reflection and discussion.—Diane Antezzo, Ridgefield Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews

A cautionary tale loses track in this fable of an egomaniacal monarch.

Here's how this story ends: The king and the sorceress fall in love and live happily ever after. And this is a surprise, because just a few pages earlier, the sorceress had put a curse on the king. His head inflated until it was 10 feet wide, so that he would learn to be less arrogant. Some picture books would conclude the story there, with King Hugo humble and chastened and vowing never again to say things like "Say, who's the most majestic king?" But a few pages from the end, the sorceress has a realization: "Could it be, deep down inside, / she kind of liked the king?" The author, it seems, is a die-hard romantic. Readers may be less forgiving, not only because the romance comes out of left field, but because the author tries to rhyme "and bent down on his knee" with "then spoke most humbly." The awkward verses make it difficult to put up with an insufferable main character—and vice versa. The pictures of King Hugo floating through the air, however, are hysterical; readers may wish the book had ended on that punch line. Even in the age of The Stinky Cheese Man, sometimes a tidy moral is best.

Some fairy tales, it turns out, work better without the fairy-tale ending. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pamela Paul
Van Dusen…tells the humorous tale, with boisterous, eye-popping illustrations…
—The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763650049
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 7/26/2011
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 351,085
  • Age range: 3 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Van Dusen
Chris Van Dusen is the author-illustrator of THE CIRCUS SHIP and the illustrator of the best-selling MERCY WATSON books by Kate DiCamillo. About KING HUGO'S HUGE EGO, he says, "Arrogance is a trait I’ve always deplored, and yet I have to admit that sometimes my own ego can become a bit inflated. Luckily I have a wonderful wife who acts as a Tessa to my occasional Hugo." Chris Van Dusen lives in Maine with his family.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 9, 2011

    My New Favorite

    The storyline and illustrations in this book are outstanding. I couldn't help but laugh out loud as I was reading it. It also sends a message that has been lost in reminding children it is not good to get too full of themselves. The book is delightful. I bought several copies as gifts.

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