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The Emperor’s New Clothes

Nicole Rayburn, Illustrated by Patrick Allison

The Emperor’s New Clothes by Patrick Allison and Nicole Rayburn published by Jackson Fish Market The day began like every other day with the emperor getting out of bed and declaring, “I have nothing to wear!” In truth, he had rooms and rooms piled high with the most elegant garments. Word spread of the emperor’s obsession with new clothes and it wasn’t long before two thieves showed up at the royal gates with a scheme in mind. They told the emperor that they were tailors and could weave the lightest and most beautiful cloth. “But that’s not all,” said one of the thieves. “We weave spells into our cloth and foolish people cannot see our magic clothes.” This was just what the emperor wanted! “Tell me what you need to make this wonderful fabric,” he said. The thieves eagerly responded “a loom, some thread, the finest silk, and a bag of gold coins.” The thieves spent weeks pretending to work until finally the emperor couldn’t wait any longer. He sent his most noble servant to check on the tailors’ progress. Just as the servant walked through the door, the thieves sprang into action. “Look how marvelous this fabric looks,” one thief said to another. Immediately, the noble servant began to panic. He couldn’t see the cloth! The last thing the noble servant wanted was to be called a fool. And with his reputation on the line, he lied to the emperor about how soft and fine the clothing looked. “At last, I must go see for myself!” said the emperor. He was never one for waiting and was practically halfway down the stairs before the royal court could catch up. I bet you can guess what happened next. The thieves laid out the garments and nobody could see a thing! Of course, they couldn’t see a thing because there was nothing there. It seemed the thieves were getting away with their trick. Pretending to see the fabric, the emperor said, “I cannot wait to try this on!” for he didn’t want to be exposed as a fool in front of his royal court! And so the emperor cautiously undressed and the thieves draped him in the invisible fabric. The thieves praised the emperor and soon the royal court was following their lead. “Lovely!” said the jester. One of the thieves suggested, “Your majesty, the villagers have been talking about this beautiful fabric. I bet they’d love to see it.” The emperor felt flattered, “Well then I shall show it to them.” That afternoon, the emperor led the royal procession through the streets. The villagers stared and whispered. They were all too surprised and frightened to tell the emperor what they really saw. Then a little girl’s voice called out from deep in the crowd, “Look! The emperor is naked!” The emperor looked around and realized she was right. The thieves had tricked him! But the procession must go on, thought the emperor. He continued with his head held high. The thieves had taken them all for fools. “How dare they!” said the noble servant. And to show his support for the emperor, the servant began to take off his clothes and walk behind him. The crowd cheered loudly. Soon all the court’s animals were walking proud, and naked, behind their emperor. They had learned their lesson: they were no longer afraid to tell the emperor, or anyone else, the naked truth about what they saw.