Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Doylestown author puts a fresh spin on classic tale of vanity

Lee Harper, a Doylestown author/illustrator, has created an updated retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson favorite. Harper's version is called "The Emperer's Cool Clothes" (Marshall Cavendish, hardcover, Sept. 2011, 32 pp., $16.99), and features an emperor penguin who tries a bit too hard to be cool.

According to the publisher of the children's book:

Harper’s update takes place in a snowy imaginary land where emperor penguins, polar bears, seals, and walruses all live — and shop — together. The emperor is struggling with childhood memories of being teased and decides that once he becomes ruler and wears the right clothes he will achieve "total coolness.” The emperor can never find the perfect outfit until he meets the Rogue brothers, who make clothes so special that only the coolest people are able to see them. But what happens when no one in the emperor’s court can see the clothes — and the emperor can’t, either! Is no one cool enough or perhaps . . . there are no clothes to see? The emperor learns that even a penguin can have a hard time being cool.

Harper said he hopes the book inspires children to discover their own self-worth and understand that it's not what you wear or how you look that makes you cool.

About the author:

Harper resides in Doylestown with his wife, Krista, and sons. In addition to writing and illustrating picture books, he visits schools and teaches painting workshops. He illustrated "Turkey Troubl"e by Wendi Silvano, which was an IRA-CBC Children’s Choice title. He also illustrated "Woolbur" by Leslie Helakoski and "Looking for the Easy Life" by Walter Dean Myers. "The Emperor’s Cool Clothes" is the second book that Harper has both written and illustrated. The first was "Snow! Snow! Snow!"

On his inspiration for becoming an author and illustrator, Harper says: "
I always loved to draw. When I was a second grader my best friend's dad used to bring home piles of manila paper from his work and we would spend hours just doodling. We drew crazy cars, monsters, fighting machines, goofy people...that kind of stuff. In the fifth grade I grew more sophisticated and had my first experience illustrating. I illustrated a book report on James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans." Although it didn't quite come out as well as N.C. Wyeth's version, I was very proud when my teacher decided that it was of high enough artistic merit to be passed around for the entire class to see! That really inspired me."

Harper is currently at work on
a collaboration with Wendi Silvano,"Turkey Claus," due to be released in 2012.

Click here to visit Harper's website. Check out his blog here to meet some of the cast and characters of "The Emperor's Cool Clothes."

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