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Mustache! Hardcover – October 25, 2011
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Duncan, a "terribly handsome" king, spends each day "admiring his Royal Reflection, and not doing much else." His image is everywhere. Tired of living in a kingdom that is falling apart, the people demand much-needed services. He responds with a huge banner bearing you guessed it his own image. The next day a mustache appears on the banner, then on all the "Wanted!" posters seeking the perpetrator, and, finally, on every statue and billboard in the realm. It turns out all of his subjects have contributed their artistic talents to this task, and the enraged king jails them all. When life "as the only free man in all the land" becomes lonely and made worse by the sounds of laughter emanating from the jail, Duncan relents, gives up his imperious haughtiness, and paints a mustache on his own face. The large cartoon illustrations, mostly spreads, are framed in gold with a peacock motif along the bottom. The brief, humorous text appears in scrolls superimposed on the paintings. Though some pictures are so dark that details are difficult to see from afar, careful viewing reveals many visual jokes. The palace contains hilarious portraits and statues, including the king as Centaur. Beleaguered servants carry a giant mirror next to the king when he's out walking, and funny billboards abound. Despite its sheer silliness, this royal romp of a story contains some subtle messages behind the hilarity. Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT SLJ"
King Duncan is a rather good-looking guy. Unfortunately, his aesthetically appealing features do not necessarily translate into good governing skills (who knew?). In fact, King Duncan spends so much time admiring his royal visage that his kingdom is literally falling apart-towers crumble, potholes pepper roads, and playgrounds are health hazards, but King Duncan's best solution is to put up more banners depicting his kingly beauty. Finally fed up, his subjects take matters into their own hands, sneakily painting black mustaches on each royal caricature during the night, an act of rebellion that lands them all in jail. In order to accommodate so many prisoners, King Duncan is forced to build a larger jail-one that has complete towers, fully paved roads, and functional swings. The clever text will have leave youngsters giggling at the villagers' inevitable triumph at the king's expense, but the real appeal here lies in the illustrations with their cartoonish comedy and jokey details. Awash in vibrant color, the enjoyably overstuffed spreads are populated with plenty of hilarious but understated jokes (the signs of the protesting villagers are particularly amusing, and the mustaches are absurdly ubiquitous), inviting the viewer to pore over each page. A gilded peacock pattern frames each picture, completing the fractured fairy-tale feel. Youngsters will get a kick out of this kingly comedy, but you might want to hide the magic markers lest audiences follow the villagers' example on your other picture books. KQG BCCB"
King Duncan "spent every Royal Day admiring his Royal Reflection, and not doing much else. Which is why his kingdom was such a Royal Mess." When his subjects revolt, King Duncan's solution-yet another giant billboard of his royal visage, this one declaring, "I'm Great!"-forces them to use the graffitisti's most potent weapon: the scribbled mustache. Duncan, naturally, is outraged, and his attempts to ferret out the culprit result in even more absurdity. Barnett's (Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) gift for humor is as sharp as ever, and Cornell (The Trouble with Chickens) holds his own in scenes filled with visual gags. Cornell has a particular love of signage (the angry mob's posters read, "Better Ladders for Potholes" and "Read Our Signs!") and statuary (the king is memorialized conquering such menaces as a surprised puffer fish and an apathetic walrus), and the half-lidded eyes of his subjects telegraph their frustration with their ruler. Barnett's light touch with the ending is just right, avoiding dreary moralizing. PW"
MUSTACHE! Barnett, Mac (Author); Cornell, Kevin (Illustrator) Ah, the endless pleasure of drawing little mustaches on pictures. When his subjects plead with vain King Duncan to fix their falling-apart kingdom, he responds by giving them the greatest gift of all: a giant portrait of himself slung from the castle walls. They are understandably underwhelmed. The next day a giant mustache adorns his royal face, and, furious, he has more posters of his likeness made up to plaster every free inch of the kingdom. And sure enough, every one of them soon sports a little black mustache. Who could have perpetrated such a crime? Well, everybody, it turns out, and after the king builds a kingdom-sized jail to adequately hold them all, loneliness eventually drives him to join in the spirit of the joke. The pompous king takes center stage in much of Cornell's cartoony artwork, but there's all kinds of great stuff going on in the periphery (including a jester who juggles battle-axes, babies, and hamburgers), ensuring plenty of repeat trips to watch Duncan get lampooned again and again. - Ian Chipman Booklist"
Barnett delivers a sweet slap to vanity. This king is neither toady nor tyrant, but he just can't get enough of himself. He gazes into the mirror that one of his retainers totes by his side, smitten and remiss. For as he takes in the royal visage, the royal roads are crumbling and the royal playground has broken swings-his kingdom is a wreck of neglect. "Enough!" cry his subjects, but all the king offers is a giant billboard of his face. That night, a giant mustache is painted on the royal puss. Outraged, the king wants the culprit flung in jail. The wanted posters, of course, feature the king's face. More mustaches materialize. "So he slouched in the Royal Throne. Look at my wonderful face, ' he said. Who could be doing this to me?' " Well, everyone. Cornell ushers the story forward with cinematic artwork, framed in elaborate medieval-like borders but paced sequentially like a comic book. As the town inadvertently re-creates itself-everybody admits their guilt, everybody must go to jail, which means a big expansion project for the prison, which results in a whole new village-there comes a bloodless revolution. The king can't beat them, so he joins them, clueless until the end, and kids will giggle all the way. Kirkus"
About the Author
Mac Barnett (www.macbarnett.com) is the author of several picture books, including Oh No! Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World and Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem. He also writes the Brixton Brothers series of mysteries. Although he often neglects to shave, he has never worn a mustache.
Kevin Cornell (www.bearskinrug.co.uk/) spends his days manicuring a magnificent beard, pausing only occasionally to illustrate from his Philadelphia home. Both he and his mustache have illustrated several books, including The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button: A Graphic Novel and The Trouble With Chickens. You can visit him online at www.kevskinrug.com.
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In my opinion, the illustrations are awesome, the storyline has potential, but the ending is really lacking. In addition, I feel it's the type of book, in which, the reader (if it's not the child) needs to add to the story with funny voices, extra animation, etc. for it to be really humorous. For example, my husband is not an animated reader and so he really dislikes reading this one aloud to our son.
Overall, I would recommend this book for the kindergarten to 2nd grade set mostly for the illustrations.
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A third grade teacher