Louis I, King of the Sheep by Olivier Tallec: a smart, meditative story on how power changes identities and priorities and on how a good leader should not be

Olivier Tallec, Louis I, King of the Sheep

Published 2015 by Enchanted Lion Books, 34p

It was a nice coincidence how in the last couple of weeks, still very anchored in the Romanian political reality, still reading the news every day and revolting myself in front of my laptop, it happened to come across and read a series of amazing books describing corruption, bureaucracy and the way political ambition can change perspectives and alter values. I still think that everybody should read Animal Farm for political education; and now I would add on the must read list Louis I, King of the Sheep.

Olivier Tallec is a remarkable French illustrator; he has talent, humour, subtle irony, sophistication in simple words and by the time you get to the end of his books you want to start them again.

One windy day Louis was grazing on top of a hill when a gust of wind placed a paper crown at his feet. He puts it on his head and immediately appoints himself as Louis I, King of the Sheep. His status changes by chance but Louis is too busy with his new position to realize that. He begins to walk on two legs, use a scepter and find a throne that will confer him even a higher position.

onthethrone
Copyright: Olivier Tallec
hunting
Copyright: Olivier Tallec

Louis I also told himself that a good king should address his people from time to time. Other than that, he would spend his time hunting, chasing after deer, wild boars and, above all, lions. But since there were no lions in his kingdom, he would have them brought to him for his pleasure.

His new ambitions will include having the most opulent gardens and an impressive palace where only the world’s greatest artists would perform. Losing all his empathy and kindness, Louis will become generous only to himself and to those that pay tribute to him. Ambassadors will come from long distances to applaud his position and show obedience.

ambassadors
Copyright: Olivier Tallec

The climax of the king’s power will be translated into his atrocious decisions – to form an army to keep order in his kingdom and to eliminate all the sheep that do not resemble him.

Too preoccupied to materialize his tyrannical urges, Louise forgets about the wind. But one day, another breeze brings the change and leaves the king without his crown, forcing him to walk again on his four legs and humble join his comrades.

humble
Copyright: Olivier Tallec

 

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