Book Review (#1): The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen

 

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A few days ago, my little brother walked in from school, clutching this books, telling me its his newest English assignment. As I’d been putting together my list of short stories for the Deal Me In challenge, the author’s name has popped up several times, and I squeal in recognition of seeing his name on my brother’s book. Now, it’s said on the back of the book that this is a story for those who have just started reading books on their own. A part of me feels a little stupid for having that be the first book I review on my blog for 2014. The other part loved the book and believes that if I’d read this book when I was brother’s age or was the book’s intended audience, some of my favourite things about it would’ve gone right over my head, and this is why I decided to review the book.

This is the story that features a king who loves clothes above everything else. He’s not necessarily vain, but rather obsessed with clothes and not repeating outfits. He’s basically a teenager in freshman year of high school. And he is trying to find the perfect outfit for the upcoming royal procession and therefore summons the best of clothes-makers from all over the world. And this is where madness ensues.

First of all, I think the writing is beautiful! It manages to integrate some advanced words for new readers without feeling too forceful. It focuses on dialogue but also on thoughts and feelings and the inner workings behind what a person’s first instinctive response was and what actually is said in reaction. I don’t remember reading any picture books recently, but I don’t think many focus on thoughts and feelings the way this book does.

What I got to learn from this book is how we adults never want to seem stupid or incompetent in front of anyone, even though we know or assume we are. And this is the element the “evil” clothes-makers take advantage of. Indeed, and as the amazing Holden Caulfield would say, the adult world is so phony and full of false pretenses and genuine apathy for anything but looks. The story is resolved due to the innocent honesty of a child who points out the obvious fact that all the adults in the kingdom were too proud to admit to. And I thought that was beautiful.

If you do have a child between the age 5-7 around, I think this is a great book to introduce them to. It’s fun and the illustrations are brilliant, and it’s a genuinely good story.

And don’t worry, I don’t plan to shower you in reviews about children books, but I really liked this one. It made me laugh and I think it portrays a very interesting theme, being just a children’s book and all. I hope you don’t hate me for this because I love you all. I’m swamped by exams, but they’re gonna be over in a few days and I plan on reading excessively during break.

Let me know if you know about this book or any others like it. I would love to collect them for my brother.

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