The Red Corduroy Shirt

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First impressions can sometimes be deceiving, and it often takes careful scrutiny and reflection to truly understand something new. Such is the case for Jake and Jerry, two schoolmates whose respective families have immigrated to the same city from different foreign countries. The boys form an immediate friendship, but it seems their parents have more difficulty accepting each other, and Jake is forced to return a gift from Jerry the prized red corduroy shirt.

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Overview

First impressions can sometimes be deceiving, and it often takes careful scrutiny and reflection to truly understand something new. Such is the case for Jake and Jerry, two schoolmates whose respective families have immigrated to the same city from different foreign countries. The boys form an immediate friendship, but it seems their parents have more difficulty accepting each other, and Jake is forced to return a gift from Jerry the prized red corduroy shirt.

Told from the perspective of an inquisitive and open-minded boy, Joseph Kertes' clever story of mutual prejudice delivers a powerful message in the form of a subtle contemporary parable.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Christopher Moning
When Jake sees Jerry wearing a marvelous red shirt, he can only imagine what a fabulous creature provided it. Jake is from Hungary, where there are no such animals as corduroys. Jerry and Jake become fast friends. Jerry Hom, an Asian immigrant, shows Jake his beautiful etchings and his mother's paintings. Jake sees a whole new world opening before him. Then Jerry astounds Jake with his kindness: He gives the wonderful shirt to his new friend. But Jake's family is offended and Jake is forced to return the gift. This is a story about the joys and discoveries of new friends, especially when each comes from a different culture. And it is also a poignant fable about the ignorance of parents and how their pride and vanity can be destructive to a child's growth. A fine, heartwarming tale.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-4A book that is unsuccessful at relating its noble message. Readers are told that Jake, the narrator, is a Hungarian immigrant. Jerrys country of origin is never identified, but the illustrations and cultural allusions make one assume that he is from eastern Asia. The two boys become fast friends after walking home from school together, and when Jerry gives Jake the eponymous shirt practically off his back, Jakes parents refuse to allow him to accept it. This offends Jerrys father, but neither motivation is explained. The tale ends abruptly with Jakes parents mistaking a picture that Jerry drew as one of their sons and putting it in a place of honor, covering up a picture of a beloved and deceased grandmother. Children will not relate to the weakly developed and inconsistent characters. Jake cries when his father wont finish a bedtime story, and yet eloquently describes how shadows of the leaves flow over [the shirt] like film. The setting is unclear, but Jake has a picture of Queen Elizabeth on his bedroom wall. And the only hint as to the time period is a line about a Martin Luther King march. Adults may be able to contrive that the point is children as the link between cultures. All of these assumptions could facilitate classroom discussion, but reading this story for pleasure is not likely.Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public Library, IL Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780773730663
  • Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/1/1998
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.83 (w) x 7.54 (h) x 0.39 (d)

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