Cold Feet

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Overview

A creepy, wry ghost story.

Willie McPhee has fallen on hard times. Finest bagpiper in all Scotland or not, if folks don't have a farthing to spare for amusement, a man could freeze.

Now, wandering near—shoeless in the dark heart of the cold woods, Willie McPhee has fallen on something else— a tree trunk, he thinks. But a closer look reveals it's a man, a DEAD man, lying in the snow. A—A—A—aaaaaah!

A poor man ...

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Overview

A creepy, wry ghost story.

Willie McPhee has fallen on hard times. Finest bagpiper in all Scotland or not, if folks don't have a farthing to spare for amusement, a man could freeze.

Now, wandering near—shoeless in the dark heart of the cold woods, Willie McPhee has fallen on something else— a tree trunk, he thinks. But a closer look reveals it's a man, a DEAD man, lying in the snow. A—A—A—aaaaaah!

A poor man is a practical man, though, and that body is wearing a fine—looking pair of boots. Soon Willie's feet are warm... but who's that tapping on the door?

After stealing a dead man's boots, a poor wandering bagpiper uses them to play a trick on an unfriendly farmer but then finds the trick turned back on him.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
DeFelice and Parker (previously paired for The Dancing Skeleton) join forces again, this time to polish up a Scottish ghost story. When ragged, penniless Willie McPhee, "the finest bagpipe player in all of Scotland," stumbles across a dead man in the forest one snowy night, he helps himself to the boots. Unfortunately the man's feet come with them, snapping off when Willie tugs on the frozen legs. But "a poor man must be practical, after all," and Willie carries off the boots (and feet). Later he decides to play a trick on a heartless farmer who grudgingly sends him to the barn when he asks for shelter: Willie arranges the now-thawed feet to make it appear that their cow has eaten him. The horrified farmer and his wife quickly bury the evidence, but when Willie comes out of hiding and pipes a farewell tune atop the "wee small grave," they flee, thinking him a ghost. In the end, a bona fide ghost does appear--to Willie. DeFelice pitches this deliciously eerie tale in the kind of cadence and language that make for a grand read-aloud (e.g., the near-shoeless Willie goes "flip-flap, flip-flap, flip-flap down the road"), and she neatly preserves the regional flavor ("Och! They were fine-looking boots, they were!"). Beautifully set off by the understated book design, Parker's watercolors rank with his finest. The blotted impressionistic colors and scrawled lines are both edgy and amusing, while the cool gray tones create an appropriately chilly backdrop for the spooky antics. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
In this quirky tale, Willie McPhee, the finest bagpipe player in Scotland, falls on bad times and is forced to travel in search of people who are willing to spend money on his unique form of entertainment. After months on the road with no success, his clothes become tattered and torn and his boots are riddled with holes. On a dark and dreary winter night, he comes across a dead man lying frozen in the snow. Startled by his discovery, he slowly realizes that the man is wearing a pair of fine-looking boots. After some thought and effort, he takes the boots (with frozen feet inside), hangs them around his neck and heads off to find a warm place to stay. When he discovers a cozy farmhouse, he knocks on the door and asks for some hospitality. Unfortunately, he encounters an unfriendly farmer, who gives him the cold shoulder and invites him to stay in the barn with Blossom, the cow. In the morning, Willie puts on his new boots and decides to play a trick on the stingy farmer—he places the two thawed feet (from inside his boots) near the cow in hopes of getting the farmer and his wife to believe that the cow ate him during the night. Before the sun comes up, the startled farmer and his wife discover the feet and decide to bury them in the yard. After they return to the house, Willie stands atop the burial spot and plays an eerie tune on his bagpipes for the couple. Needless to say, the frightened pair flees the scene, never to be seen again. When the house is empty, Willie goes inside and enjoys the warmth—that is until a stranger knocks on the door, looking for his feet. Yikes! This creepy story will make a wonderful addition to Halloween collections everywhere. It's spooky throughand through, and young readers who enjoy really gross stories will be enthralled by this heart-stopper. 2000, DK Publishing, $15.95. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Debra Briatico
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-This ghost story for the strong of stomach features a bagpiper by the name of Willie McPhee. Hard times have forced him to seek a place where people can afford his entertainment. Months pass. His boots are "more holes than leather." Alone, hungry, and tired, he trips on what he soon realizes is the frozen body of a man whose boots are too fine to leave behind. He can't remove them until he drops the man's leg, which then snaps in two. Carrying the boots (and feet within them) tied around his neck, Willie seeks shelter on a farm, only to be told by the inhospitable owner to sleep in the barn with the cow. In the morning, Willie plays a trick on his mean-spirited host and places one foot in the cow's mouth, the other beside her. The shocked farmer quickly buries the feet, and when Willie reappears to play his pipes on the grave, the man and his wife take off, never to be seen again. Later that night, as Willie enjoys the cozy warmth of the farmhouse, a footless stranger appears at the door. So ends the tale. DeFelice's language, tone, and pacing capture the essence of the oral tradition while Parker's dark and stylized watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations reflect the playfully somber mood of the story. This is a yarn meant to amuse as well as frighten, and it succeeds at both.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Another hilariously macabre folktale from the creators of Dancing Skeleton (1989). Stumbling over a thoroughly frozen corpse in the woods, down-at-heels bagpiper Willie McPhee tries to pull off its boots, only to have both feet break off inside. When a surly farmer grudgingly allows him to sleep in the barn sometime later, Willie tucks the boots under a cow to thaw, leaves the feet and his old ragged shoes near the cow's mouth for the farmer to find, and hides. Parker's poker-faced, loosely drawn and brushed watercolors capture Willie's misery as he trudges through wintry landscapes, huddles down in the sparsely furnished barn to find what comfort he can, then gravely sets up his gruesome trick. Wait, there's more. Thinking that the cow has eaten the piper, the farmer buries the feet, and then flees in panic when he sees Willie standing on the spot piping a tune. Willie happily moves into the farmhouse, only to open the door that night to a grim looking stranger lacking boots . . . and feet. There the tale ends, but be warned: shivering delightedly, entranced readers or listeners will positively demand to know what happens next, so have some version of "Tailypo" ready as a follow-up. (Picture book/folktale. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789426369
  • Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD640L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.26 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 23, 2011

    Scary Feet

    The reason i rate this book 3 stars is because well it, is a good book with pretty good illustrations. It is just a bit scary i think for the younger kids. It would be a good story to sit around a camp fire and and tell to older kids, but i think that most will agree its a bit graphic for little ones. This book is easy to understand and it is also a nice take on the original tale.

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