The King with Dirty Feet

The King with Dirty Feet
Sally Pomme Clayton and Rhiannon Sanderson
Otter-Barry Books

This is a retelling of a folktale from India and Bangladesh. It tells of a king in India who hated to wash until so malodorous does he become that even he can’t stand the stench. Off he heads down to the river, closely followed by lots of his subjects who want a good view of their ruler performing his ablutions.

After a hugely satisfying scrub, complete with his bath toys, the king emerges squeaky clean and calls for his Royal Towel. However once he sets foot on the ground this is what happens …

and even after a rewash and scrub of those tootsies they are still muddy.
Furious, the king summonses his trusty servant Gabu, ordering, “Get rid of all this dirt, so my feet stay clean.” His ultimatum gives the poor Gabu just three days so to do or lose his head.
A frenzied two days go by with first a dust-swirling sweeping and then a washing of the land.

Finally on day three, some swift stitching yields a huge patchwork covering of cloth. Fine, so far as keeping the king’s feet clean but now the kingdom has another problem. Nothing will grow if the entire land is covered, as a little old man points out.

Happily that same man has the perfect solution

and thus a wonderful invention is created …

Folktales have a timelessness that offers both simplicity and profundity: Sally Pomme Clayton’s lively version retains the essential inherent humour and directness making it great for reading aloud. Rhiannon Sanderson’s beautiful traditional style illustrations capture both those qualities making this a book that deserves a place in family and primary classroom collections

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