King Birtram, the benevolent ruler of the kingdom of Binn, spends what time he has off from the business of ruling atop his fine pair of red stilts. But his chancellor, Lord Droon, takes a dim view of such undignified things and steals the stilts. Can royal page Eric get the stilts back to the distracted king before disaster strikes the kingdom?
This book contains examples of the following tropes:
- Cats Are Mean: Inverted; the patrol cats are the kingdom's best line of defense against the Nizzards.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Droon is forced to eat nothing but Nizzards in custody after his plot is discovered.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The book is in prose rather than the rhymes Seuss used often in his later books.
- Evil Chancellor: Lord Droon. He steals the king's stilts simply because he thinks it's undignified for him to run around gleefully on them every afternoon and forces Eric to bury them. He refuses to let Eric return the stilts even as the king BSODs for lack of any downtime and the patrol cats become lazy. When Eric sees evidence that one of the dike trees has been almost pecked through, he has to fight Droon to get the stilts back to the king.
- For the Evulz: The only reason Droon steals the King's stilts that is that his specific philosophy is to be The Killjoy.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: After putting him in quarantine under guard with a false accusation of having measles, Eric is able to outwit the guards so easily that both the narrator and Droon calls them idiots.
- A Handful for an Eye: While digging up the stilts, Eric hits some of the Nizzards with the dirt.
- He's Back!: After Eric manages to bring the stilts back, King Birtram leaps up onto them, takes a deep breath, and leads the patrol cats in a great charge against the Nizzards.
- The Main Characters Do Everything: You'd think the King could delegate much of his dike tree protection duties so he wouldn't have to do a daily work itinerary that tops most of other kings' work in a month. It is justified in that the stakes for the Kingdom's very survival are so high that King Birtram cannot live with himself if he didn't make sure things are done right by himself.
- Modest Royalty: King Birtram of Binn is a workaholic most of the day whose one pleasure is cavorting on his stilts on late afternoons. The book notes that the citizenry notes while this is an unusual thing to have, the King is perfectly entitled to his dirt cheap hobby. The one person who hates it is chancellor Lord Droon.
- Stupid Evil: Droon, despite apparently working closely with the King in his business, seems to can't get it through his head that he disheartened the King so badly by stealing his stilts that he neglected his work with protecting the dike trees and almost allowed the kingdom to be flooded.
- Trademark Favorite Food: The dike trees apparently have pleasantly spicy roots, and the Nizzards like to peck at them very much. Unfortunately, the kingdom can't tolerate this as their safety depends on the roots remaining intact. Binn and the Nizzards wage a constant battle over the root system.
- Work Hard, Play Hard: King Birtram works and plays with equal intensity. The whole theme of the book is why only working is not emotionally healthy and causes problems in the long run.
- You Don't Want to Catch This: A variation where it's not the hero doing it; Lord Droon locks Eric up in a house and puts a sign on the door saying he's in quarantine for measles. After King Birtram discovers that Droon stole the stilts and nearly caused the kingdom to be flooded, he has to stay in the same place under house arrest.