LOUIS I King of the Sheep by Olivier Tallec
Published by Enchanted Lion Books
What would you do if a crown landed at your feet? There's a good chance you would pick it up and put it on, just to see how it looked and felt. With a crown on his head, Louis the sheep knows just what kind of king he would be: regal, erudite, and all powerful. He feels perfectly suited to the royal life, but perhaps he shouldn't get too comfortable, since winds have a way of blowing…
LOUIS the humble sheep stands alone on the top of a windy hill, while others graze in the calm, protected valley below. The wind produces a crown, blue in colour. Louis, uncertain of it at first, picks it up and places it onto his head. All of a sudden, Louise the sheep can stand on two legs. His back is straighter and his chin lifted up. And so it was one windy day that Louise the sheep thereby became LOUIS I, King of the Sheep! He goes on an imaginative trip, and sources a scepter, a throne, a grand king's bed and addresses his people as a good king should. As self-imposed power propels him to self-imposed greatness, his once sheep paddock surrounds become a grand kingdom of pleasure, importance and command. But … power is a dangerous thing.
LOUIS I is a tale of power and greatness that is not earned, but given, accidentally as it would happen. As the story unfolds, Louis takes his self-imposed power too far and banishes all those who do not look like him from his kingdom—a dark and sinister twist in the story. But then, upon another windy day…Louis I, King of the Sheep, becomes the sheep once again…
Author and Illustrator, Olivier Tallec has created a book of mammoth textual depth as well as captivating illustrations that complements the mood, humour and the seriousness of the story. When I first read through the story, I was enchanted by the elaborate fantasy of the fairytale-like King that was being woven into the first part of the story, but then became horrified when Louis I, the King of Sheep segregated the fold according to wool colour. Welcome to the high effective and perfectly placed plot twist the evokes emotion from the deepest part of your being! My rescuing and compassionate self wanted to shout out at him, "You can't do that—we are all the same! That is a hideous thing to do!" And I wanted to cry as I related it to our human race. At first, I didn't want to write a review about the story because it had deeply affected me as I affiliated it with racism. But now, I applaud Olivier Tallec. By manipulating LOUIS I, King of the Sheep, to drive out the sheep that did not look like him, he opens eyes to how people can be judged, if it is allowed. Olivier Tallec shows us how abhorrent the act of judging others is.
Cleverly, there is another level to the story - a statement about power, and how it can be misused as one thinks that they are mightier than thou. I smiled as a great sense of victory took hold when Louis I crown was blown off his head and he would have to return to the sheep fold...but what of the crown that has landed atop of the wolf's head? Can an object really give you power in your own eyes, and the eyes of others?
LOUIS I is a truly rare and thought provoking book. I had a strong reaction to the story line because of my own knowledge and experience of the world. Will children also react with the same deep feeling? This book demands conversation and debate. It leads the reader to comprehension with depth, if they choose.
It is certainly a book with a huge potential for use in educational institutions (primary and secondary years) as it warrants analysis and questioning, a discussion on power, morals, and will lend to the teaching pedagogy of creating a thinking and questioning generation of children.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author & Illustrator: Olivier Tallec
Title: LOUIS I King of the Sheep
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Press
Published: December 2015