The Elves and the Shoemaker

Last updated Monday, August 28, 2006

Author: Jim LaMarche
Date of Publication: 2003
ISBN: 0811834778
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Sep. 2006

Synopsis: From School Library Journal A newly illustrated version of the ever-satisfying tale of a poor shoemaker and his wife who become rich when elves create splendid shoes for them to sell, and who return the favor by making outfits for the elves. The text only alludes to Christmas, while the underlying theme explores kindness and giving. LaMarche's generously proportioned illustrations in acrylic washes and colored pencil feature substantial child-sized elves, who are "poorly shod" and wearing "raggedy sacks." (In other versions of the story, the elves are often as small as the shoes themselves or smaller.) The luminous pictures will project easily to the back of the storytime room, and the unembellished text moves the narrative along briskly. A good choice for those wishing to de-emphasize the religious aspects of the holiday.-S. P.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Where do you get your shoes? What are they made of?
•  Have you (with your parents) ever taken shoes to a shop to get them repaired or fixed when they come apart, or to get a new heel put on?
•  This book comes from a time when there weren?t shoe stores, when all shoes were made by hand by shoemakers, and shoes were made from leather.
•  Where does leather come from?
•  This story originally comes from the Brothers Grimm, who lived in Germany a long time ago and collected stories. Some children may have heard of other Grimm stories, such as Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, or the Bremen-Town Musicians.
•  What are elves? What other stories do you know that include elves?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What kind of town do the shoemaker and his wife live in? What is their shop like?
•  How did the shoemaker and his wife know the ?children? were elves? Do you think elves really exist?
•  Why did the elves help the shoemaker?
•  Would the shoemaker have been able to make the shoes without the elves? help? Discuss the possible answers.
•  How did the shoemaker and his wife repay the elves for their hard work?
•  Parts of this story could be real, and parts are make-believe. Which parts could be real? Which parts are make-believe?
•  Elves are little helpers. Are you ever a little helper? Who do you help? Where? What do you do?

Craft ideas:
•  Trace the outline of your shoe on a piece of paper and cut it out. Trace another piece the same shape but covering only the toe half of the first part and about 2 inches bigger around. Decorate the top part, and then staple the two parts together along the sides, leaving the toe open, to make a slipper.
•  Cut out a pair of shoes and color them. Use yarn for laces and bows.

Special activities:
•  Have a parade with the beautiful shoes the children create.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!