“And so it was one windy day that Louis the sheep thereby became Louis I, king of the sheep.” And, Kurt Vonnegut would add, so it goes.
Louis is out grazing when a crown blows his way. He tries it on. Voilà, Louis I. Soon, Louis I needs a scepter and a throne. He is ambitious: his court will become home to the most distinguished artists; ambassadors from the anteater, raccoon, and penguin kingdoms will all pay their respects. This leads to megalomania: he banishes the sheep that don’t resemble him to a distant pasture. But—the wind blows once more, taking the crown with it. Power comes, power goes; at least Louis gets to keep his head. (Maybe; the crown lands at the feet of a wolf. He tries it on.) Tallec’s book is sophisticated, but it also approaches the subject, visually and textually, from a kid’s-eye view. The colors (cadmium red, indigo, pinks shading to purples) beguile, and the imagery runs from fairly goofy-looking sheep to the royal luxury of an ermine stole to spooky trees that play with light and dark. Tallec leaves it up to readers to decide how much of Louis’ power trip is imaginary, giving them plenty of details to pore over while they muse.
It’s a political education—Schoolyard Politics 101—in a picture book, one well worth having on the bookshelf. (Picture book. 4-8)