In a small kingdom, a young heir ascends, a dastardly villain plots, and a magical robe saves the day.
When the king dies suddenly, the citizens of the titular kingdom worry for the future, as their deceased ruler had warded off thieves and bandits with the aid of a magical imperial robe. The people rejoice when the beloved king’s younger son is named the heir, but his older half brother vows to claim the throne for himself. He steals the robe, slices it to ribbons, and casts the pieces to the wind, certain that his younger brother cannot rule without the aid of magic. DePaola’s latest is both a charming fairy tale and a valuable lesson reminding readers that true strength comes from love rather than brute force. Salati’s arresting illustrations, filled with beautiful animal imagery, are like a Renaissance woven tapestry come to life. The illustrator makes expert use of the double-page spread to display the grandeur of the dead king, the otherworldly beauty of the blue and gold robe, and the charm of the townspeople who sew a new robe for their young ruler. The king’s counselors are a nice mélange of young and old men and women; the protagonist is biracial, and his half brother is white.
A triumphant story celebrating the ability of love, community, and cooperation to overcome any obstacle. (Picture book. 4-8)