In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Life imitates Shirley Hughes

Dear Annie,

I had a lovely encounter walking home this afternoon, worthy of a blog entry.

It was a gorgeous day here today: sunny and not too humid.  I ran into a neighbor on a walk with her two sons, ages 1 and 4.  She commented about hoping for rain, and I realized the 4 year-old was wearing a pair of bright yellow rain boots.  We all stood quietly admiring them for a moment, then his mother realized that they were on the wrong feet.  "That's why you've been walking that funny way," she said.  It took a little twisting, wiggling, and bracing himself against the available grown-ups, but he managed to switch boots without sitting down.  "Ah," I said, "do you know Alfie's Feet?"

They didn't.

Alfie's Feet
is one of several excellent picture books by Shirley Hughes, whose praises we've sung on more than one occasion.  Alfie loves to splash in puddles, so his mother gets him a  pair of lovely yellow Wellingtons (he is, after all, British).  He puts them on and heads out into the world:
Alfie stamped in a lot of mud and walked through a lot of puddles, splish, splash, SPLOSH!  He frightened some sparrows who were having a bath.  He even frightened two big ducks.  They went hurrying back to their pond, walking with their feet turned in.
His father notices that Alfie is walking a bit like the ducks, and realizes that his boots are on the wrong feet.  Alfie sits down and remedies the situation.  Satisfaction all around.  It's Shirley Hughes immersing herself in a pre-schooler's point of view, savoring small details.

It was such a magical moment for me, watching a pre-schooler realize his yellow Wellies were on the wrong feet.  It felt like a gift from the book gods. 

I'm getting the neighbors a copy of Alfie's Feet as soon as I get to work tomorrow.



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