Barnett delivers a sweet slap to vanity.
This king is neither toady nor tyrant, but he just can’t get enough of himself. He gazes into the mirror that one of his retainers totes by his side, smitten and remiss. For as he takes in the royal visage, the royal roads are crumbling and the royal playground has broken swings—his kingdom is a wreck of neglect. “Enough!” cry his subjects, but all the king offers is a giant billboard of his face. That night, a giant mustache is painted on the royal puss. Outraged, the king wants the culprit flung in jail. The wanted posters, of course, feature the king’s face. More mustaches materialize. “So he slouched in the Royal Throne. ‘Look at my wonderful face,’ he said. ‘Who could be doing this to me?’ ” Well, everyone. Cornell ushers the story forward with cinematic artwork, framed in elaborate medieval-like borders but paced sequentially like a comic book. As the town inadvertently re-creates itself—everybody admits their guilt, everybody must go to jail, which means a big expansion project for the prison, which results in a whole new village—there comes a bloodless revolution.
The king can’t beat them, so he joins them, clueless until the end, and kids will giggle all the way. (Picture book. 6-8)