Third Issue of the Growing Bookworms Email Newsletter
The Declaration: Gemma Malley

Righty and Lefty: A Tale of Two Feet: Rachel Vail

Book: Righty and Lefty: A Tale of Two Feet
Author: Rachel Vail
Illustrator: Matthew Cordell
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-6 (Picture Book)

Righty and LeftyOK, I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about Righty and Lefty: A Tale of Two Feet, written by Rachel Vail and illustrated by Matthew Cordell. I mean, how interesting can a picture book about feet be? But I have to tell you, this book is adorable. I don't know how Rachel Vail thought this up, exactly, but she had me laughing aloud repeatedly.

Lefty and Righty are two feet belonging to the same boy (shown only from the waist down). Each foot has his own unique personality, though they are compelled to work together. Lefty is the timid one. He prefers to wear galoshes, so that he doesn't get wet. He likes to stay in bed a bit longer in the morning, and he's not very fond of the nail clippers. Righty, by contrast, wants to spring out of bed in the morning, and stay up hanging out late at night. He's fascinated by the variety of possible grown-up shoes, and fantasizes about taking a beach vacation on his own.

Like any pair of siblings, Lefty and Righty squabble a bit, compete with one another, and sometimes inadvertently hurt each other. But when it comes right down to it, they know that they belong together. This message isn't as overt as it sounds, though, because it's delivered with such quirky humor.

My favorite part:

"Outside, Righty and Lefty race.
Sometimes, Righty wins.
Sometimes, Lefty wins.
It is always close."

I love the deadpan humor, and I think that kids will, too. Of course it's close - how far away from each other can two feet get? My second-favorite part:

"I'm never wearing shoes," grumbles Lefty.
"When I grow up, I'm wearing galoshes very day."
"You only get one," says Right. "You will have to wear a galosh."

Isn't that great? "You will have to wear a galosh". Galosh is such a funny word by itself, and the whole sentence just sounds like something one preschooler would say, in superior fashion, to another.

Matthew Cordell's pen and ink and watercolor illustrations are perfect for this tale, with gentle hues, and humorous details. Above Righty there's a little thought-bubble containing a heart when he looks at the variety of possible shoes. And when he's fantasizing about being by himself on the beach, there's a single sandal lying in the sand, just waiting for kids to notice and appreciate. There's plenty of white space on each page, but enough detail to reward repeat readings.

All in all, I think that Right and Lefty will be a hit with the pre-school crowd. Just don't be surprised if, after a reading or two, you hear your child mediating a dispute between his or her own left and right feet. And you might have to come up with some galoshes. Have fun!

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: November 2007
Source of Book: Unbound advance review copy from the illustrator

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.