The Emperor's New Clothes: A Folk Tale Classic

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Hans Christian Andersen
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This book was first copyrighted in 1949 by Virginia Lee Demetrios. The copyright was renewed in 1972 by George Demetrios. This emperor spends all his time and all his money to be well dressed. He has a different suit for every hour of the day. The detailed art, heavy in curlicues and with a trace of Raoul Dufy, is delightful, for example the two views of the palace and city facing each other a few pages into the book. There is a great deal going on in each illustration. Two robbers claiming to be weavers say that clothes woven from their magic cloth could not be seen by anyone unfit for the office he holds or very stupid. Is it logical for the emperor to think that, if he wears a suit from this cloth, he can tell who is wise and who is foolish? The people of the city are anxious to learn how wise or stupid their neighbors are. The emperor sends an honest old minister because he is surely fit for his job. In the meantime, the weavers are putting all the costly thread and silk into their knapsacks. The detailed images of the city reappear near the end as the whole town talks about the splendid cloth. The emperor knights the two weavers and gives them the title of "Gentlemen Weavers." Burton cleverly uses a mirror or chair to cloak the emperor's nakedness from the viewer. Finally, in the procession, we get to see the emperor fully naked except for his sword and belt. "'But the Emperor has nothing on at all!!!' said a little child." Soon all the people cry out together that he has on nothing at all. The emperor feels silly and knows that the people are right. "The procession has started and it must go on now!" Does he learn anything? Do they catch the robbers? This is perhaps the longest and most detailed version of the story that I know.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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