Keeper of Soles

Keeper of Soles

by Teresa Bateman, Yayo
     
 

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Named an ALA Notable Children's Book and featured on many "Best of the Year" lists, this charming picture book, acclaimed for its superb storytelling and brilliant art, is now available in paperback.

Cloaked in black, Death has come to call on Colin the shoemaker. Thinking quickly, Colin notices that Death is barefoot and offers to make him some shoes. Death,… See more details below

Overview

Named an ALA Notable Children's Book and featured on many "Best of the Year" lists, this charming picture book, acclaimed for its superb storytelling and brilliant art, is now available in paperback.

Cloaked in black, Death has come to call on Colin the shoemaker. Thinking quickly, Colin notices that Death is barefoot and offers to make him some shoes. Death, completely befuddled, is fitted for sandals (as they'll go best with his robe) and leaves. Each time Death comes to call on Colin, he leaves with a sole, but never the one he intended. At last, Colin knows he has made Death every kind of shoe possible. What will happen when Death knocks on his door again?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Colin the cobbler outwits the Grim Reaper in this giggly, clever twist on an old folktale. When the black-robed stranger (who vaguely resembles Edvard Munch's subject in The Scream) knocks on the door, Colin thinks fast. "Have you ever noticed," he says to Death, "that your feet hurt after work?" Death doesn't have a chance as Colin snatches his list of names and makes a shoe pattern (in a coffin shape) out of it. Bateman's (The Merbaby) shoemaker hero mixes shrewdness and compassion with solid fashion sense: "Yes, of course, black. Something that will blend in nicely with the robe." In his acrylic paintings brushed in warm, smudged colors, Yayo tucks dry jokes into nearly every corner. Death's face is flat white, but when he gets cold, his nose morphs into a little thermometer; his toenails have skulls on them. The cobbler goes on distracting Death by making him boots for cold weather and walking shoes so comfortable that the caped gent leaps over cemetery gravestones in a single bound. When Death comes once again for Colin's soul-this time, for real, readers may fear-Colin says, "And what do you think I've been giving you all these many years?... I've given you sole after sole." Even young readers who don't understand the verbal pun will note that the teeth in Death's grinning mouth are shaped like little boots. Ages 6-10. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Colin, the clever shoemaker, finds his own unique triumph when black-coated Death comes for his soul. Colin is not only "the best shoemaker in the kingdom," but his shoes are also considered magic. He kindly charges the poor very little instead of making a fortune. So when he notices that Death is barefoot, he puts him off with a promise of fine new sandals. Those completed, he offers boots for the cold weather; when these are finished and found comfortable, they are followed by good walking shoes. Then come soft slippers, and fancy shoes for court. As years go by, Colin and Death become friends, "if such can be said of Death." When Death cannot be denied his soul any longer, Colin reminds him that he has already given him "sole after sole." Smiling, Death agrees to wait until those soles have worn out, and Colin gains many more years. Yayo uses acrylic paints to create spaces, theatrical settings for his two major characters, and many, many shoes. Colin and Death are introduced on the jacket playing chess with shoe-shaped pieces. Death's black robe and elongated white face are a bit ominous, but the cobbler's smiling face and carrot-like nose provide a humorous touch. The style is impressionistic rather than realistic; the clever story is told across double-page spreads with sly simplicity. 2006, Holiday House, Ages 6 to 9.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Colin is a much beloved and somewhat magical cobbler whose expertly crafted shoes enhance the lives of all who wear them, even Death. While this is not Ingmar Bergman's Grim Reaper, the specter is shrouded in black and arrives to tell the shoemaker that it is his time. The quick-thinking man, noting that his visitor is barefoot, instantly creates a pattern for coffin-shaped sandals-to be ready in one month. Boots follow, then "sportier" walking shoes, slippers, and fancy court shoes, until, finally, Death allows no more distractions. When he reminds the artist that he has come for his soul, Colin retorts: "And what do you think I've been giving you all these many years-I've given you sole after sole." Death laughs, permitting a further extension. Bateman pairs the cadences of a traditional folktale with contemporary humor. The scenes are imbued with suspense without being macabre. Yayo's full-bleed acrylics provide large expanses of rich, layered colors as foils for the smaller, whimsical details: a floor filled with cleverly designed shoes; the plummeting thermometer nose on white-faced Death; a scarlet, clog-shaped bed. Dramatic changes to the horizon line add interest and momentum. Witty and urbane, yet full of child appeal, this tale would make an interesting follow-up to favorites in the established cobbler canon.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A Colombian artist makes his U.S. debut on a high note, pairing witty paintings to Bateman's lively tale of a shoemaker who gets Death for a customer. Seeing his grim visitor's bare feet, Colin the cobbler hurriedly offers to create a pair of sandals, and earns a month's reprieve. The sandals are subsequently joined by a pair of boots, then walking shoes and so on as Colin adds years to his allotted span-and earns even more time at the end with a joke (hint: see title). A somber, cloaked figure at the beginning, Death lightens up with each return visit, bounding through a graveyard, trying on a huge pair of clown shoes and, even in the end, laughing out loud. Yayo tucks further chuckles into his simply brushed paintings, furnishing Colin with a shoe-shaped bed, coffee pot and other furnishings, for instance, and Death with a thermometer for a nose in one wintry scene. A terrific complement in plot, theme and warmhearted tone for Yuyi Morales's Just a Minute (2003). (Picture book. 6-8)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780823417346
Publisher:
Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
01/28/2006
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Teresa Bateman is a children's author and school librarian. She remembers one particular pair of hiking boot soles, which happened to rest too close to a campfire and melted a bit. On the trek back out of the woods, her soles picked up nearly ten pounds of dirt, bark, and moss. "The thing I've found about shoes," she says, "is that they usually have memories attached to them."

Yayo is a native of Colombia who has been living in Montreal for many years. His art has been exhibited all over the world, including Japan, Brazil, France, Yugoslavia, Russia and most recently, Turkey. He has also illustrated several books for children in Quebec.

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