In a nod to art’s twin powers of subversion and of transformation, a very small painter makes a hardhearted king cry—and then smile.
Enraged at the sight of a quickly sketched scowling caricature, the king orders little Daphne to exchange her artist’s beret for a tall, conical dunce cap. She proceeds to decorate and make it so attractive that soon, her hats are selling like hotcakes (“She has such an eye for color and proportion,” coos a customer). Taking this new fashion to be mockery, the king rushes out to banish everyone—including, as it turns out, his own angry daughter. Re-enter Daphne, who apologizes for the “mean picture,” soothes the weeping monarch with a pointed cap of his own, and after helping him lead the princess and other exiles back, regains her beret as a reward. In her scribbly cartoons, Fortenberry endows both the king and the diminutive artist with easy-to-read expressions and big, fetching manes of flyaway black curls. Readers inspired by the dozens of artfully enhanced toppers on display in several scenes will find directions for making their own on the author’s website.
Parts of this may fly over younger audiences’ heads, but the general point is adroitly made. (Picture book. 6-8)