Monday, January 22, 2007
Keeper of Soles
Bateman, Teresa. 2006. KEEPER OF SOLES. Ill. by Yayo. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823417344 [Suggested Grade Levels 2 – 6]
Interrupted late one night by a visit from the Grim Reaper, hardworking Colin the shoemaker surprises Death by offering to make him a much-needed pair of shoes. Their agreement forms the basis for what turns out to be a long-term relationship. Rather than pleading for his life each time Death visits, Colin crafts, sandals, boots, slippers and every type of shoe imaginable. Bateman’s continuing playful use of the words soul and sole reverberates in Yayo’s hilarious paintings. Death’s face takes the shape of a shoe sole, the patterns for shoes Colin cuts look like coffins, the blade of the scythe resembles a shoe, and the Grim Reaper’s teeth take the shape of boots. Bold bright colors provide a surprisingly fun feel to what might be a somber tale.
A commentary on the importance of taking pride in your work underlies the plot of this unusual folk tale: Colin’s workmanship was just as fine for rich people’s shoes as for those less fortunate. Ultimately, his workmanship secures his survival. Death agrees to wait until the soles of his many shoes have worn out. Children will enjoy pulling for Colin’s success as they predict the unfolding plot.
Help students identify shoe images throughout the book. Let them create a shoe collage using magazine clippings. For a more ambitious project try painting old shoes as described at http://www.kinderart.com/painting/shoes.shtml.
Another book about cheating death:
Morales, Yuyi. JUST A MINUTE: A TRICKSTER TALE AND COUNTING BOOK. ISBN 0811837580
Other trickster tales:
McKissack, Patricia. PORCH LIES: TALES OF SLICKSTERS, TRICKSTERS, AND OTHER WILY CHARACTERS. ISBN 0375836195
San Souci, Robert. SISTER TRICKSTERS: ROLLICKING TALES OF CLEVER FEMALES. ISBN 087483791X
By Suzy Parchman