Palace-dweller Pierre’s obsession with fashion begins as an infant when his mother embroiders his diapers with the initials LFP—short for Lord Fancy Pants. As he grows, Pierre lives up to his nickname, “insisting that his mother embroider giant letters in gold thread on the bottom of all of his fancy pants,” that “the best seamstress in the kingdom” be hired “to make beautiful clothes only for him,” and that his jackets be cut short in back to show his scrolled initials worked in gold thread. Strolling through the village to show off his fancy pants and shopping for silks and velvets in the village bazaar, LFP is the envy of the other children, and soon fancy pants become all the rage. (Lemaire’s pleasant watercolor-style illustrations render LFP’s adventures in sartorial splendor with a suitably light touch.) But when LFP snubs a village boy for wearing plain brown pants, and then oversees the creation of his own fanciest pair of pants yet, a lesson is in the offing. LFP’s new pants are so heavily encrusted with jewels he can hardly walk (“His pants were stiff and went all the way up to his underarms. They were ballooned at the knees in big billowy gold poofs”), and even his previously overindulgent parents laugh at the sight. The author’s not-so-subtle themes of sharing and friendship—and the other side of the coin, vanity and materialism—lead to a wiser Pierre when a mishap at the river involving his puppy leads to a rescue by the boy he snubbed earlier. Happy to have a friend to play with, Pierre generously donates his “old silly fancy pants” to all the children in the village, while the author offers a reassuring little twist at the end to say that caring about one’s appearance isn’t a bad thing and that it can be a boy thing, too. The author might consider, however, adding a line or two to show that LFP’s royal parents, who aided and abetted their son’s fancy-pants obsession from birth, learned a needed lesson, too.
An inventive take on the perils of excess and the pleasures of bigheartedness.