April 25, 2016
Louis I: King of the Sheep by Olivier Tallec
Louis I: King of the Sheep
by Olivier Tallec
Enchanged Lion Books
Louis is just an ordinary sheep until a paper crown blows onto this head. Then he is Louis I, King of the Sheep. As the King, he immediately starts making plans.
At first, his plans seem harmless enough. A king needs to be easy to recognize, so he needs a scepter. It should be easy for his people to see him when he speaks to them, so he should sit up high . . . and on and on it goes.
Soon he has plans for dignitaries and sheep marching. Before long, he’s thinking about all those sheep who don’t look like him and maybe should find someplace else to live.
And, then, fortunately for those around him, his crown blows away. And Louis is once again just a sheep.
I have to admit that in reading several of Tallec’s books, I like those best that he both writes and illustrates (this one and Who Done It?). His messages are fairly subtle and leave the reader space to mull things over and work things out. He doesn’t preach about power corrupting. He doesn’t say a word about tolerance or humility. He simply tells a story about Louis, a sheep.
Tallec’s art work isn’t particularly realistic but the cartoony nature of his paintings make them a little silly and fun – suitable for a book about the Sheep Who Would Be King. I love that when Louis is just a sheep, browns dominate. There are pastoral scenes full of green grass and blue skies but also palace scenes with rich, red draperies. But it isn’t just the use of color that makes his paintings worthwhile, there are also details in the art work that aren’t in the text and these details tell part of the story. Take note especially of the wordless final spread.
Add this book to your classroom shelf and use it as a jumping off point for discussions about privilege, authority and entitlement. Your students will definitely have quite a bit to say.