Demi. The Emperor's New Clothes: A Tale Set in China. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2000. $19.95. ISBN: 0-689-83068-8.
Demi, the award-winning author and illustrator of over 130 children's books, continues her success with this version of "The Emperor's New Clothes." Her beautiful illustrations create a fabulous portrayal of this ancient tale. She uses the color gold throughout, a color of purity. She also includes various Chinese symbols of purity and virtue, explaining that these serve as reminders of what the Emperor is lacking in himself and the people that surround him.
This is a lovely book, which offers more than just a tale about the power of the mind and the innocence of a child. The illustrations present countless other stories that children of all ages are sure to enjoy. In the Author's Note, Demi discusses the art of Chinese painting and the significance of some of the symbols she depicts in her own illustrations.
K.C. June '03
Demi. The Dalai Lama. Henry Holt & Co, 1998. $16.95. ISBN 0-8050-5443-X.
"Feast for the eyes" is inadequate; "feast for the soul" is more like the impression made by this picturebook. It is finely-crafted, intricate, and its subject matter is not easy. It tells the story of the Dalai Lama from his birth in a peasant hut in eastern Tibet to his recognition as the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, his life-changing move to Lhasa and his singular upbringing among monks, his avid curiosities, and the ensuing Chinese invasion. The young Dali Lama barely escapes over the Himalyan passes to India. In exile now for decades, he is a globally-known figure, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and much admired keeper of the Tibetan flame. That is the story. Its presentation in this book is so artful and exciting as to be breath-taking. When you see Demi's use of rainbows you will know what I mean by that. I should note,however, that the divinity of the Dalai Lama and the miracle of his recognition are told as fact. Demi uses watercolor swatches of the brilliant colors loved by Tibetans: saffron, burgundy, turquoise, and the detailed precision of Moghul-like art to present doubletruck panoramas of Tibetan life. Her broad-brushed backgrounds of mountains and sky are overlaid with delicately detailed insets of the Dalai Lama's activities as told in the corresponding prose. Each painting depicts the Dalai Lama, often as a child (which will appeal to children), in such a rich surrounding that there is a "Where's Waldo" dimension to this publication. The look of the book, the Tibetanness of it, is a new experience for Western readers, who--it being a picturebook-- are see-ers as well as readers. I recommend The Dalai Lama as a cognitive windfall, enriching the mind in multiple ways. I will use it in my classes in paperback.
Recommended reading level: Age 8 and up
Reviewed by Alida Allison
Demi. Happy New Year!New York: Crown Publishers,
Inc, 1997. $16.00.
In Happy New Year, Demi describes the traditions, symbols, and
rituals involved in celebrating the Chinese New Year. This nonfiction
account is written in a postmodern manner with sidebars, invitations to
the readers, and graphics.It is nonlinear and presents a varied and colorful
display of Chinese culture. Demi offer definitions of the lunar calendar,
the zodiac, banners and decorations, cleaning rituals, gods and worshipping
rituals, dishes, firecrackers, gifts, flowers and trees, lion dances,
and the lantern festival.
It is obvious that Demi has researched this topic as she includes many
pertinent details and facts. She provides a plethora of information and
invites the reader to take away what he/she wishes from the text. She
is thorough, succinct, and detailed in her delivery.
Demi's illustrations are accurate and representative of the culture.
It is more cartoon-like than realistic but accurate in that it mimics
Asian art, especially postmodern and contemporary Asian art. This book
is appropriate for children of all ages. Young children will delight in
the pictures. The reader can choose how much or how little he or she wants
to learn from Demi's book.
The information is presented in such a way that skipping text will not
interrupt the flow of the book. The information seems to come alive as
the characters are dancing across the page. Each page builds excitement
for the grand celebration. Demi creates a party mood by the stimulation
provided on each page. It's almost like the reader is getting ready for
the party along with the characters.