Shoes From Grandpa
By Mem Fox
on September 16, 2012
Fox, Mem, and Patricia Mullins. Shoes from Grandpa. New York: Orchard Books, 1990.
Jessie is a young girl with a common problem- she’s outgrown her clothes and is in need of new. Her Grandpa gets the ball rolling, offering to buy her some shoes. The entire family, gathered for a family cookout, gets into the spirit of things by suggesting what they will in turn provide her. Jessie thanks them all, but asks kindly for the one article of clothing that hasn’t been suggested, but she dearly wants.
Ms. Fox once again weaves a delightful tale that youngsters of all ages will enjoy. This story builds on each article of clothing that was offered previously, as a new item is suggested for Jessie. The story unfolds in clever rhyme, patterned after the famous writing style of The House That Jack Built.
Though Ms. Fox is a well-known Australian author, there are no textual clues that her story is set in her homeland. This is a story that children from any culture could believe was written about, and for, them. Language patterns are consistent with American English, not British English, which one might expect in a book set in Australia. The vivid, appealing illustrations of Ms. Mullins offer the only clue as to the culture from which this story comes. On the last page of the book, the final illustration includes tags cut off of the jeans Jessie longed for. One of the tags reads “all cotton- made in Australia.” Astute observers will notice this detail, but anyone not picking up on the clue will still enjoy the story.
Jessie is the only named character in this story, with other characters referred to by their relational name, i.e., dad, mom, cousin, etc. The practice of gathering family for a cookout is common in many cultures, though the Australians are known for it, since they celebrate Christmas during summer, often with a cookout. The foods illustrated on the grill appear to be meats common to many cultures.
The engaging rhymes and rhythm make this a book for everyone, regardless of culture or age.
CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 1990)
An up-to-date cumulative variation on The House That Jack Built features Jessie and rings with lines such as "...And her mom said, / 'I'll buy you a skirt that won't show the dirt, / to go with the socks from the local shops, / to go with the shoes from Grandpa'..." The final, full-color collage shows high-spirited Jessie's preference for jeans as she dashes away on her skateboard!
Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1990)
In a lively cumulative rhyme, the well-loved Australian author of Hattie and the Fox (1988) tells how Jessie's family all chip in with other garments after Grandpa gives her new shoes. Mullins' expansive collages are bright and bold, fine for group sharing; she achieves wonderful three-dimensional effects with her various, skillfully employed materials.
- · Students will try their hand at creating a rhyming story. Working in small groups, one student will begin the story with a two-line rhyme. The story will be passed to the next group member, who will add the next part of the story with another two-line rhyme, and so on. Students will follow this structure until the group is satisfied with their story. As an extension, pages can be illustrated and bound, to create a rhyming storybook for the class library.
- · Each student will create an individual rhyme about the clothing he/she is wearing at the moment, patterned after the rhyming story in Shoes From Grandpa.
· Students will examine other texts patterned after The House That Jack Built, such as
All the World’s a Stage by Rebecca Piatt Davidson
The Chair Where Bear Sits by Lee Wardlaw
The House That Drac Built by Judy Sierra
The House That Jack Haunted by Pamela Conn Beall and Susan Hagen
That House That Jill Built by Phyllis Root
This is the Matzah by Abby Levine
· Students will read other books by Mem Fox, paying attention to the relationships Ms. Fox establishes between her characters. Suggested titles are listed below.
· Students will create an illustration of themselves all decked out in their favorite clothes. Use textured materials, such as wallpaper samples or fabric scraps, to give the illustration depth and interest.
· Shoes From Grandpa is set at a family cookout. Students will illustrate an activity that brings their own family together. Write a caption or paragraph to explain the illustration and why that activity is important to/fun for the family.
- · Students will browse catalogs or clothing advertisements to determine prices for the items given to Jessie in this book. Add them all up to see how much Jessie’s family would have spent if they had bought all of the items in a big shopping spree.
- · Students will locate Australia on a map or globe. Explore why Australia experiences opposite seasons to those in the United States.
Other Books by Mem Fox
The Little Dragon
Let’s Count Goats!
A Giraffe in the Bath (co-written with Olivia Rawson)
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Where The Giant Sleeps
A Particular Cow
Where Is The Green Sheep?
The Magic Hat
Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild!
Whoever You Are
Boo to a Goose
Shoes from Grandpa
Feathers and Fools
With Love, at Christmas
Goodnight Sleep Tight
A Bedtime Story
The Straight Line Wonder
Sail Away: The Ballad of Skip and Nell
Just Like That
Hattie and the Fox
Arabella: The Smallest Girl in the World
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge