Princess Pippa is a heroine in our house. No, that’s not an inaccurate reference to Pippa Middleton – Princess Pippa is the gutsy star of Tony Wilson’s book, The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas, that we reviewed two years ago on Babyology. Wilson is back with a newly ‘re-fashioned’ fairytale and this time it’s all about an emperor and his clothes horse.
The Emperor’s New Clothes Horse, written by Tony Wilson and illustrated by Sue deGennaro, is the story of a proud Emperor who has won almost every horse race in the kingdom. All except one – “I’d trade all these trophies for one Cristobel Cup!” the Emperor cries.
The Emperor sends the royal trainers to search the kingdom for the fastest and fittest racehorse in a quest to win the Cup. They return empty-handed, only to discover that the Emperor has been wooed by two brilliant international trainers who claim to have found the fastest racehorse. They also claim that only clever people will see the brilliance of their horse and all others (the stupid ones) will see only a clothes horse. Young stablehand, Frankie, pipes up “Mum’s got one of those in our laundr-” but is quickly told to pipe down and let the Emperor enjoy the glory.
So can a clothes horse win the Cristobel Cup?
There’s a reason people keep going back to original fairytales – the lessons to be learned from them are still as relevant today as they were centuries ago. Such is this case with this book, although children don’t need to be familiar with the classic fairytale, The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen, to appreciate the message of Wilson’s re-telling. The bottom line? Think for yourself and don’t be pressured or scared into going along with things that you know aren’t right.
Wilson’s perfectly pitched humour combines with deGennaro’s unique and fanciful illustrations (her pompous Emperor is fabulous). A clever use of coloured columns on the side of each page for the text allow for large, double-page illustrations, well suited to the horse-racing action. Keep an eye out for some funny little elements in each illustration – the buckets labelled ‘Poo’, the Emperor’s wife reading a book titled ‘My Husband is Bonkers’ and more.
The Emperor’s New Clothes Horse is suitable for children aged three and over – older kids will particularly enjoy the twist on the original story. It’s available online at Readings. For more from Tony Wilson, see our review of The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas.