The Bootmaker and the Elves

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The cowboy bootmaker is so poor that even his shadow has holes in it. His wife is as skinny as a snake on stilts, and his own boots are so frazzled that he can't strike a match without burning his feet. Trouble is, the bootmaker makes terrible boots. No self-respecting cowboy wants to buy them. But then one night, when the beleaguered bootmaker is down to his last piece of leather, a miracle occurs! Illustrated with rootin' tootin' zeal, this Old West recasting of the classic "The Shoemaker and the Elves" is an ...
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Overview

The cowboy bootmaker is so poor that even his shadow has holes in it. His wife is as skinny as a snake on stilts, and his own boots are so frazzled that he can't strike a match without burning his feet. Trouble is, the bootmaker makes terrible boots. No self-respecting cowboy wants to buy them. But then one night, when the beleaguered bootmaker is down to his last piece of leather, a miracle occurs! Illustrated with rootin' tootin' zeal, this Old West recasting of the classic "The Shoemaker and the Elves" is an uproarious enchantment.

A retelling, set in the Old West, of the traditional story about two elves who help a poor shoemaker, or in this case a bootmaker, and his wife.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Lowell's (Little Red Cowboy Hat) version of the classic tale, the fashioner of footwear makes boots for cowpokes and rodeo queens while the elves work their magic in cowhide and stitch desert scenes. This cowboy bootmaker is "so poor that even his shadow had holes in it," because the boots he makes are so ugly and pinch so hard that "nary a cowboy would buy them." That is, until two elves begin to inject a little life into the bootwear by moonlight. Its classic underpinnings are still here, but what makes this tale worth the telling are its colorful characters and the spurs they sport. A highlight is the pair of "two giant boots with silver longhorn cattle on the front and golden oil derricks on the back, lone stars on the toes, and yellow roses in between." Curry (Snail and Buffalo) gives the bowlegged Texan who buys them a body that bends into a horseshoe below the belt. His acrylic dry-brush technique lends an adobe texture to the shop walls, and the outdoor shots capture the unique quality of Southwestern light. Details like a rich rancher's longhorn hood ornament nudging the doorway or the equine rear end and saddle belonging to "the best horse trainer in the whole territory" framed in a window add to the fun. (And Curry breaks stereotype when two siblings stride off in two pairs of "peewee boots, chile-pepper red and sky blue"the cowboy sports red and the cowgirl blue.) Children will laugh their way through this Wild West ride whether they've heard the tale before or are on their first visit. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Retelling folktales with a Western setting has become Susan Lowell's province. Her latest offering will have you clicking your boots and "Whoopee-ki-yi-yaying" when you meet this talented elf-duo whose boots are the talk of the West. They've saved the poor bootmaker's business. One night his wife spies them at work, "the poor things are running around in the cold without enough clothes to dust a fiddle." When the elves see their new duds, the sashay out the door singing "Happy trails to you."
Children's Literature - Kristin Harris
If cowboy boots have a special appeal to children, maybe it's because parents are always reluctant to invest in shoes so clearly not designed for growing feet. And of course, cowboy boots are so beautiful. This story definitely delivers some pretty exquisite boots, along with a mystery. The bootmaker is very poor, and running out of luck. With just enough leather for one more pair of boots, he cuts them out and goes to bed, to work on them in the morning. But somehow, miraculously, during the night, the boots are finished, and they are masterpieces. The boots sell right away and the bootmaker invests in more leather, and the next morning two new pair of boots miraculously appear. The bootmaker and his wife decide to solve the mystery, and in doing so set off a chain of events that through their good will, leave them fat and sassy ever after. The combination of charming story and exceptional artwork make this a very appealing publication.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2--"The Shoemaker and the Elves," retold in the colorful language of the Old West. A poor bootmaker is down on his luck and down to his last scraps of leather. After a night of worrying, he is "hornswoggled" to find a finished pair of fancy boots on his workbench. A rich rancher comes along and pays for them with a wad of money "big enough to choke a cow," allowing the bootmaker to buy more leather. Each day, more magical boots appear, and more "rootin' tootin'" cowboys and rodeo queens show up to get shod. Finally, the man and his wife stay up late enough to spy on their midnight helpers. They then hatch the expected plan to reward the elves with tiny blue jeans, Western shirts, cowboy hats, and, of course, itty-bitty boots. The delighted elves scoot away into the sunrise, but by now the bootmaker has plenty of ideas for deluxe footwear and can manage without the little people. Lowell's language is filled with whoopee-ki-yi-yays and the like: "skinny as a snake on stilts"; happy as a "dog with two tails." The similes and metaphors never let up, and Curry's pictures extend the jolly mood. Though dark in hue, they have a much lighter tone than his work for Jim Latimer's Snail and Buffalo (Orchard, 1995).--Ruth Semrau, formerly at Lovejoy School, Allen, TX
Kirkus Reviews
A bootmaker "so poor even his shadow had holes in it" wakes one morning to find his last piece of leather made into a pair of eye-popping, shiny new cowboy boots, bright with stars and roses. Sound familiar? Yep, it's a pair of tiny elves, and when the grateful bootmaker and his wife give them new duds to replace their patched overalls, they dance out the door, singing, "Whoopee-ki-yi-yay, it's time to play! Yo-e-lay-eee-ooo, happy trails to you!" As she did for Little Red Cowboy Hat (p. 302), Lowell gives the folktale a true Western spin, much abetted by the inventive Curry: Together they describe and depict each unique set of footwear in lovingly explicit detail. Like the elves, this retelling will leave readers "just as pleased as a dog with two tails."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780531071380
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Edition description: 1ST ORCHAR
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.87 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.11 (d)

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