The Emperor of Absurdia by Chris Riddell

The Emperor of Absurdia

Written by Chris Riddell
Illustrated by Chris Riddell

3+ readers   5+ readers   
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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Put on your jingle-jangle socks, and prepare for adventure! Sumptuous illustrations tempt readers into the delightfully absurd world in which dinner is served before lunch and skyfish settle on umbrella trees. The young Emperor is a charming child with a hairy wardrobe monster as an advisor who sets off hunting dragons across a gloriously imagined landscape where anything fantastical can happen. A richly entertaining picture book from a uniquely talented artist at the height of his powers.

Shortlisted for the Nestle Children's Award 2006 and for the incredibly prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal 2007.

Judges' comment: Riddell makes glorious use of colour in this very interesting and engaging picture book, which despite being extraordinarily detailed is very easy to read. It cleverly gives the reader the impression of moving physically into its landscape, and works on lots of different levels as it turns reality completely on its head. The composition of each page is always well-thought out, and the technique of using small pictures at certain points makes the reader slow down and study carefully. The ambiguous ending stays with you, and allows you to take pleasure from the book over and over again.


The Emperor of Absurdia by Chris Riddell

Welcome to Absurdia: a strange and wonderful land where nothing is quite what it seems. Trees are birds, umbrellas are trees, and the sky is thick with snoring fish. Join one small boy as he tumbles out of bed into a crazy dreamland of wardrobe monsters, dragons - and amazing adventure.

This gloriously rich and beautiful picture book comes from the award winning Chris Riddell, a uniquely talented author/illustrator at the height of his powers. With a story to enchant the youngest readers, and pictures to gasp and pore over whatever your age, The Emperor of Absurdia is an extraordinary example of wonderful storytelling. Available in mini hardback edition, it's a perfect gift and an ideal stocking filler. Also available as a mini hardback: Wendel and the Robots.

Click here for an Emperor of Absurdia related activity sheet.


[A] dreamy, sumptuous, highly charged fantasy . . . wonderful storytelling with intricate, pleasing illustrations rendered in a classical style.

About the Author

Chris Riddell

Children's Laureate 2015-2017

One of the World Book Day 2015 Authors Chris Riddell was our Author and Illustrator of the Month in December 2010. Click here to find out more.

Chris Riddell is a prolific writer and illustrator whose work is familiar to both children and adults. He is known especially for his distinctive line drawings with their clever caricature, fascinating detail and often enchanting fantasy elements. He has won the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal twice, in 2002 for Pirate Diary and in 2004 for Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver. His solo work includes the Goth Girl series, the Ottoline series and the picture books The Emperor of Absurdia and Alienography. The first Goth Girl novel won the Costa Children’s Book Award in 2013. He received the Hay Festival Medal for Illustration at the 2015 Hay Festival.

He has worked widely with a variety of collaborators: Paul Stewart on the Muddle Earth, Edge Chronicles and Wyrmweald series; Neil Gaiman on The Graveyard Book, The Sleeper and the Spindle, and Fortunately the Milk, and Russell Brand on Trickster Tales: The Pied Piper of Hamelin. He has also illustrated A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young by former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen, published in September.

In addition to his children’s books, Chris is a renowned political cartoonist whose work appears in The Observer, The Literary Review and The New Statesman. He lives in Brighton with his wife and has three grown-up children.

Chris Riddell on John Tenniel : "Before I knew a thing about him, John Tenniel was a hero of mine, or rather, I should say, his white rabbit was. As a child I copied Tenniel’s illustrations from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland obsessively, particularly his drawing of the White Rabbit in waistcoat and frock coat, umbrella tucked under one arm and a pocket watch in paw, a look of suppressed panic in his eye. I loved analysing the shading, intricate lines of cross-hatching, the folds of the sleeve, the tilt of the head, that wide-eyed rabbit stare. Tenniel was one of the reasons I became an illustrator."

Photo credit Jo Riddell.

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Book Info


32 pages
Interest Age: From 3


Chris Riddell
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Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan

Publication date

22nd October 2015




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