Cover of King Long Shanks by Jane Yolen

King Long Shanks

I had long wanted to do a book with Victoria Chess whose quirky illustrations of animals and children greatly appealed to me. She, it seems, wanted to work with me. She mentioned this to one editor friend who urged her to call me. We chatted and she said that she’d always wanted to do a frog version of the “Emperor’s New Clothes” (a Hans Andersen story.) I obliged. I had a ball doing it, too. Especially the moral: “True loyalty cannot be measured as simply as cloth. But it covers a lot more than legs.” It was an ABA’s Pick of the Lists and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.


  • School Library Journal Best Books 1998
  • American Booksellers Pick of the List 1998

What reviewers have said:

  • “Making the characters frogs, not humans, in this picture-book version of Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, Yolen and Chess tell a very funny fable about vanity and self-delusion. And even the heaviest censor couldn’t object to a story about nudity–in a frog. Yolen tells it with just the right silly tone for reading aloud as the pompous king succumbs To flattery and believes he is wearing a smart new outfit in the parade. No one dares tell him the truth, that he is wearing nothing, for fear of being thought ‘a ninny, a nonny, a numbskull, or a nincompoop. And disloyal besides.’ Finally one innocent little tad dares say it aloud: ‘King Long Shanks is bare!’ Chess’ garish pictures in watercolor, pencil, and ink capture the sly ridicule of the puffed-up bullfrog and his sycophantic followers. And Yolen adds a touching surprise to the old story: after all the king’s bullying about forced loyalty, the crowd finally hoots with laughter at him, but his loyal wife tears a piece off her beautiful gown to cover him up.” — Booklist
  • *STARRED* “A tongue-in-cheek telling with ‘ribeting’ artwork.” — School Library Journal
  • “Yolen and Chess manage to inject new life into this old tale and a moral that finally makes sense.” — American Bookseller
  • “This ambian Emperor’s new clothes is likely to please.”–Publisher’s Weekly

The Harcourt hardcover and paperback are available in stores.