Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

No Room for Napoleon

No Room for Napoleon

Adria Meserve
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 8
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006   ISBN: 978-0374355364

Napoleon is a small dog with big ideas. One day when he is out in his boat he sees a small island. When he arrives on the island he discovers that it is quite lovely. He meets three friendly and charming animals; Bear, Bunny, and Crab. The three animals are delighted when Napoleon asks if he can stay and they are more than willing to help the little dog build himself a home.

What Bear, Bunny and Crab are not prepared for is Napoleon’s tendency to take things over. In not time the dog has the three other animals building a huge monstrosity in the middle of the island just for him. As it is gets bigger and bigger it takes over the island until there is nothing left but a huge animal made hill with Napoleon’s house on top. Napoleon has managed to ruin the island and his selfish bossiness has also alienated the other animals so much that they want nothing further to do with him.

In this beautifully and richly illustrated picture book readers will see that it takes work to make and keep friends. Napoleon discovers that he has to consider the needs of others, and that getting his heart’s desire is not always a good thing. He also learns that using the environment as he wishes can turn it into an ugly and dead place. Sometimes we have to tone down our dreams in order to be able to enjoy our natural wonders. The message in this charming picture book is clear but not pedantic and readers will delight in seeing that Napoleon is able to undo the mess that he had made.