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The King with Dirty Feet

Book Synopsis

There once was a king who hated bath time so much that he never washed. He was a very smelly king!

The king is finally persuaded to bathe in the river but no matter how clean the rest of him is, his feet stay dirty.

The people sweep away all the dirt in the land – but the air is choked with dust. The dust gets washed away but now the land is flooded with water. An enormous tapestry is sewn to cover the whole kingdom but now nothing will grow on the land… What is to be done?

At last one old man steps forward with leather and a pair of scissors … and to the king’s amazement he creates – the first ever pair of shoes!

Our Review Panel says...

The King with Dirty Feet is inspired by an Indian and Bangladeshi folktale called The King and the Cobbler. It is a story of the invention of shoes, designed for an Indian king who has a problem keeping his feet clean. It is a retelling; perfect to read aloud to young children and is accompanied by vibrant illustrations full of traditional colour and detail which transport us to another culture and the explanation of how the first shoes came to be.

The King has a problem – he smells! He hasn’t had a bath in a whole year and when the smell becomes too much for even himself, he decides to have a bath! But unfortunately, no matter how clean the rest of him is, his feet remain dirty. The King sets his servant Gabu the task of ridding the land of dirt and dust in three days. So Gabu begins to clean up the kingdom but that in itself causes problems. Firstly, the people sweep away all the dirt, but the air becomes filled with dust. Secondly, the dust gets washed away but the land is flooded with water. Finally, everyone works together to produce an enormous tapestry to cover the whole kingdom. However, one little old man points out, “There will be no grass or flowers. The animals will be hungry. There will be no fruit or vegetables to eat.” Thankfully, he has an answer. He takes a pair of scissors from his pocket and proceeds to make the first ever pair of shoes. The King can now walk anywhere and the grass will continue to grow.

The story is written with repetition and uses onomatopoeic words such as ‘Zut’ together with action verbs, bold font and capitalisation. These devices make this retelling a great book for oral story telling. It deserves to be read aloud! Children will love to follow the monkey character who appears throughout the book, helping Gabu with his tasks.

This book would be an excellent introduction to traditional tales in Key Stage 1.

This book is available on these booklists:

The King With Dirty Feet: Activity Sheets

A resource pack provided by the publisher to accompany the book The King With Dirty Feet.

The King with Dirty Feet

the king with dirty feet

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