Here's a book that I have been enjoying lately (a gift from Hazel, better known as Ms. Artroom Plant): The Emperor's Oblong Pancake, written by Peter Hughes in 1961.
The illustrations are by the inimitable Gerald Rose. I didn't know his work before, but it turns out he is a prolific illustrator, winner of the Kate Greenaway medal, and beloved by generations of British children. Shows how much I know! His book The Tigerskin Rug is such a classic that it has recently been re-published by Bloomsbury. I just love his quirky and fresh line, full of charm and energy and humour.
The story is an ode to stubbornness. It is about an emperor who, one day — on a whim — commands that everything in his kingdom be oblong. Every other shape is banished!
And thus we end up with oblong eggs, oblong apples, oblong bathtubs, even oblong wheels (a bit troublesome, that). Problems arise, of course. After many failed attempts to solve them, the emperor himself rides off in search of an answer — and returns with the discovery that the world itself is round. Who knew? And of course he decrees that -- guess what?— everything in his kingdom must now be round, too....
...except maybe his breakfast pancakes.
•Chiara Armellini, especially here and here.
•Benoit Tardif of Montréal— prints, posters and book covers.
•Terrifying French Children's Books — article is inaccurrate on many counts but v. funny... check out the slide show.