cover image New Feet for Old

New Feet for Old

Barrett Waller. Four Winds, $13.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-792371-1

Waller's idealistic first book, with its ``once upon a time'' introduction, magical premise and happy ending for all, demonstrates the virtues of sharing and selflessness. A kindly man--who, with his white beard and round belly, distinctly resembles Santa Claus during the off season--sells feet from a wooden cart. Yes, feet. Customers try on a pair of kangaroo feet to help them jump higher, some cheetah feet to help them run faster. The noble peddler prefers ``something more precious'' than mere currency--a ``curtsy . . . a joke . . . a booming song.'' Stevenson, illustrator of As the Crow Flies , models the townsfolk, quaint villages and cobblestone lanes after those seen in the European countryside, and his warm palette alternately suggests sunny days and cozy fireplaces. While the story risks imparting false optimism about handicaps--a boy who walks with crutches miraculously recovers after receiving a new set of feet--the third-person, fairy-tale narration and the rustic, foreign settings remind readers that the heroic peddler is the stuff of legend. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)