The President’s New Clothes by El Pudu Studios is the retelling of Hans Christen Anderson’s cautionary tale of vanity and gullibility of people blindly conforming to social norms or pressures without thinking for themselves. This is one of the toughest lessons for all of us to learn and it is one of the reasons this tale has lasted through the centuries. El Pudu Studios has updated and given the tale a new vocabulary and design to be more relatable to modern children. Illustrated with beautifully crafted puppets and scenery out of largely felted materials, the book comes to life in rich textural detail. Each page is presented in a nonlinear manner, meaning that to proceed we follow a path back on the opening page. Unlike the characters in the book, kids need to visually scan and think how to progress with the story. This also helps to alert kids, and help them pay attention by bringing in an original interactive element. The English narration is professional and draws little ones into the story. Words can either be displayed or hidden once read, to better view and explore the pictures.
“The President” is a vain and selfish man, whose only concern is the way he appears rather than serving to benefit the citizens of his country. Needing to make appearances at the New Year’s Parade, he sets his stylist off to find him the best garment in all the land.
Finding a pair of “scammers” who convinced her of their skills and abilities of making the finest of all suits, made from cloth that only the worthy and intelligent could see, the stylist reports back to the president of the miraculous possibilities of the new suit. Well, it is made…and the country’s riches are plundered in the process.
On parade day, the scammers came to dress the king, all the while pantomiming placing the suit on him and fussing about the look of the suit. In true fashion, he paraded through the streets, without a single stitch on and without anyone raising an eye. The townsfolk all following the lead of the king so as not to appear stupid or unknowing. Then, a small cry rises up from the herd, in the voice of reason from a little boy.
…And we know how the rest goes… (It did give me a chuckle to know that we were led through the story like sheep by characters made from felted wool, and the illustrations were a visual play on the moral of the book itself.)
Also included are mini games accessed when the book is held upside down, and the chance to discover new paths when looking at things from another angle. The game makes use of the iPads accelerometer and promotes visual motor abilities. As each page is connected to both the story and a game, it is a wonderful way to reconnect to the story. Opportunities are abundant with folktales to discuss values and mores. Games such as retelling the tale or taking turns coming up with your own tall tale are ways to extend play of the story.
The President’s New Clothes is recommended for its original spin on a classic tale. Its lovely illustrations and superb English narration will keep little one’s engaged. It provides the opportunity to discuss social mores and norms for older ones. You may also want to check out El Pudu Studios other book, Vincent the Anteater’s Space Voyage , also reviewed by TWA.
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years, and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play everyday; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.