Cold Feet

Cynthia C. DeFelice, Author, DK Publishing, Author, Robert Andrew Parker, Illustrator DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley) $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7894-2636-9
DeFelice and Parker (previously paired for The Dancing Skeleton) join forces again, this time to polish up a Scottish ghost story. When ragged, penniless Willie McPhee, ""the finest bagpipe player in all of Scotland,"" stumbles across a dead man in the forest one snowy night, he helps himself to the boots. Unfortunately the man's feet come with them, snapping off when Willie tugs on the frozen legs. But ""a poor man must be practical, after all,"" and Willie carries off the boots (and feet). Later he decides to play a trick on a heartless farmer who grudgingly sends him to the barn when he asks for shelter: Willie arranges the now-thawed feet to make it appear that their cow has eaten him. The horrified farmer and his wife quickly bury the evidence, but when Willie comes out of hiding and pipes a farewell tune atop the ""wee small grave,"" they flee, thinking him a ghost. In the end, a bona fide ghost does appearDto Willie. DeFelice pitches this deliciously eerie tale in the kind of cadence and language that make for a grand read-aloud (e.g., the near-shoeless Willie goes ""flip-flap, flip-flap, flip-flap down the road""), and she neatly preserves the regional flavor (""Och! They were fine-looking boots, they were!""). Beautifully set off by the understated book design, Parker's watercolors rank with his finest. The blotted impressionistic colors and scrawled lines are both edgy and amusing, while the cool gray tones create an appropriately chilly backdrop for the spooky antics. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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