Review Blog

Jun 04 2018

The King with dirty feet by Sally Pomme Clayton

cover image

Ill. by Rhiannon Sanderson. Otto-Barry, 2018. ISBN 9781910959237
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fable, India, Problem solving. When the king decides to take a bath, everyone is impressed, because this is a task he rarely undertakes. He cleans his teeth, scrubs his body and washes his hair but when he gets out of the river his feet remain dusty and dirty. He is appalled, and tells his servant, Gabu, that he must find a way of allowing his feet to retain their cleanliness on pain of death. he has three days to solve the king's problem, before he loses his head.
Gabu tries several different ways of keeping the dust in the country down, but to no avail, it takes an old cobbler to come up with an idea, one that the population takes to with relish.
This is a charring take on an old Indian folktale called The King and the cobbler, and has been rewritten many times.
The bold illustrations using mixed media and photoshop will entrance younger readers as their eyes dance across the scenes of Indian life, with its array of animals, people and houses. Readers will love working out what other things the king can do to keep his feet clean, remarking on how clean their own feet are and what they do to wash them.
Apart from the beautifully resolved folktale and the problem solving idea it contains, the book could well be used in a class where personal hygiene is under discussion, the story lending itself to an awareness of the children's feet.
Fran Knight

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