Self-Esteem on Steroids: King Hugo's Huge Ego by Chris Van Dusen
LONG AGO WHEN PEOPLE SPOKE
WITH WORDS LIKE "THOU" AND "THEE,"
THERE LIVED A KING NAMED HUGO
WHO WAS NO MORE THAN THREE FEET THREE.
AND THOUGH THIS MINI-MONARCH
STOOD NO HIGHER THAN AN ELF,
HIS EGO WAS ENORMOUS--
HE THOUGHT HIGHLY OF HIMSELF.
Literally and figuratively, King Hugo has the original big head, sitting precariously on his minuscule body. But Hugo is blind to his own faults, physical and otherwise. Each week he submits his unfortunate subject to his "Speech of Adoration," in which he glorifies himself to the skies, while his people stifle the urge to barf and kneel at the times he deigns appropriate. After all, they know that failure to show proper obeisance is a one-way ticket to the executioner's block.
That is, they all know it except for Tessa, a spirited peasant girl with special talents. When Hugo orders her and her flock out of his royal way and knocks her into the roadside mud, Tess has had it with her swell-headed sovereign.
"...O COCKY KING
IN ROBES OF RUBY RED,
LET'S SEE IF ALL YOUR ARROGANCE
CAN FIT INSIDE YOUR HEAD."
Tessa's curse is potent, and every time King Hugo opens his mouth in self-glorification, his head increases in size, and soon his noggin is enormous, too big for his tiny body to support and he has to be towed around like some runaway Thanksgiving parade hot-air balloon.
Many indignities to Hugo's royal person ensue, and eventually the egotistical king gets the message and apologizes to the beauteous and apparently magical Tessa.
"I'VE BEEN UNKIND AND RUDE.
PLEASE STAY WITH ME AND TEACH ME HOW
TO CHANGE MY ATTITUDE.
Chris Van Dusen's King Hugo's Huge Ego ((Candlewick, 2011) provides a comeuppance for the supercilious sovereign and a romantic ending for Tessa and Hugo to boot, a satisfying conclusion to his latest kid-pleasing rib tickler. Van Dusen's rhymes are sprightly and his strong comic style, filled with humorous visual asides, will keep kids chuckling all the way to the final page. "...a terrific mélange of satire, slapstick, and caricature, all served up with expert comic timing," says Publishers Weekly.