Book Review: The Emperor’s New Clothes Horse by Tony Wilson

The Emperor’s New Clothes Horse seemed liked an ideal book to share with you on a day when a ‘race stops the nation’.

clothes horse [klohz-hawrs, klohthz-]


1. a frame on which to hang wet laundry for drying.

2. not a horse

I really enjoy reading fables to children, and illustrated ones are perfect to read to young children.  They are interesting and engaging to read but they also offer a springboard into many meaningful discussions.

The Emperor’s New Clothes Horse is a twist on Hans Christian Anderson’s classic tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes. Tony Wilson’s story-telling style is also reminiscent of classic fables. The silly story and gullible emperor will have children giggling along as you read it.

Sue deGennaro’s colourful, textural and eccentric illustrations offer more subtle humour to the story too, which she has created using markers and biro; the final illustration being particularly witty. They are all featured in the centre of each page with the story bordering the outer edges.

In this adaptation, we meet an emperor who is fond of racing horses. He has owned many winning horses but he is desperate to win one particular cup, and sets about finding the perfect horse for the job.

His royal trainers unsuccessfully search the entire kingdom for the right horse, but luckily for the emperor, he is visited by two international trainers who bring him a magical horse.

‘To any normal, clear-thinking citizen, she is a mighty thoroughbred, measuring twenty hands in height.
But to those who are stupid or unfit for their work, she will appear as nothing but a humble clothes horse.’

Not wanting to appear stupid, the emperor’s family, friends and staff all try to believe this would become a winning horse; except for one, young stablehand  who tries to inform the king of the truth.  But, being incredibly greedy and vain, the emperor only finds himself hoodwinked by the international trainers.

Even with the best jockey in the kingdom, nothing can force a clothes horse out of the starting gates. The cunning international trainers walk away with a lumpy sum, while the emperor only walks away with a bruised ego and a tarnished reputation.

With all good fables, there is an important moral or two to be learned. I’ll let you and your children track down this book to work out what they are in this story.

Book Details:

Author: Tony Wilson

Illustrator: Sue deGennaro

ISBN: 978-1742830452

Format: Hardcover

Publisher: Scholastic Australia, May 2012

RRP: $26.99 (aud)

Suitable for ages: 3+

Book Review: The Emperor’s New Clothes Horse by Tony Wilson

  1. I love a modern twist on an old classic :)

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