The King with Dirty Feet
Sally Pomme Clayton
Otter-Barry Books, 2018
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Ask a child to draw a picture of the king and they will always give him a crown. They would never give him dirty feet! But that is the problem for the Indian king in this story inspired by a Bengali folktale called The King and the Cobbler.
Even though the king lives in a beautiful palace in a kingdom filled with trees, flowers, animals and a broad flowing river, he himself is not so beautiful because he loathes bathing. To put it bluntly, he stunk so much that it even offended him and so he reluctantly decides to bathe in the river. But when he steps out the riverside dust dirties his feet and so he has to get in the water again. But again they are dirty when he steps out. Realising the problem he orders his servant Gabu to remove all the dust and dirt in the kingdom and gives him just three days to do it or…
Gabu’s first two solutions work but the king doesn’t like them. The third solution works but then a wise old man shows him that the land won’t like it. Is there a way for the king to have his clean feet and the land to still produce the plants and animals that make it so remarkable?
This new version of an old story is brought to life by an acclaimed storyteller so it is easy to hear yourself reading it aloud to a captivated audience while the colourful, detailed illustrations show a different kind of king and kingdom to challenge the stereotype.
Something a little different to share and spark a range of conversations from the importance of hygiene to the purpose of clothes to the stereotyping of particular characters .