Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday Book Review: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

by Simms Taback

Joseph had a little overcoat, and when it becomes ragged, he turns it into a jacket. When the jacket gets too worn, he turns it into a vest... The long-ago overcoat is slowly whittled down and remade until it is nothing more than a button. Joseph loses the button. So what can he do now that he has nothing? This is a story that teaches you can always make something from nothing. Another message I particularly enjoy is that the crafty mind can always make something useful beyond its original purpose.

The pictures are a story of their own. The pages have holes in them, so when you turn the page, the new article of clothing is cut out of the old one. Also, the pictures include so many details! Many of those details include references to Jewish history, with pictures of real people on the walls of Joseph's home, and Hebrew writing on his papers. This is a very deserving Caldecott winner.

Enrichment: This story has a particularly personal impact for me. Before reluctantly turning an old shirt into a rag, my great-grandmother would cut all the buttons off and put them in little jars. Those buttons went on to be useful on another article of clothing. I was given that box of button jars before my grandma died, and they have been repurposed to being a sorting game for my kids. Every once in a while I'll even find the need to pull out the box to replace a lost button. The little jars of buttons are more than a useful or sentimental item, they are a reminder to me that maybe I should think twice about throwing away that box of wire hangers just because I have a million of them....or that chair with a leg that could be fixed....
If you don't feel crafty enough to tackle repurposing something, give it to someone who is! A forum with increasing popularity is Join the group in your area and someone local is guaranteed to pick it up and reuse it. If you want a little money for it, try your local You don't need an account to post for free on Craigslist, just remember to post it in the correct state and area. Definitely submit a picture with it (of the item, not you...ha ha!) for best results!

Know of any other options for repurposing items? I'd love to hear them!

Buy It: Available on Amazon in hardcover for $11.55, or in the new and used section for as little as $2.98 (plus shipping). Overstock has it for $10.97 with flat rate shipping.


Amy J. said...

I absolutely love this book it is one of our favorites. My sister just had an awesome idea...she is starting a blog just for "trash to treasure." People will be able to post items their family doesn't need or has outgrown and the first one to snatch it up is the lucky winner! I love this idea.

Amylouwho said...

I love Freecycle! I heard about it through Flylady whose mantra,"if it doesn't make you smile get rid of it" has helped me bless many others with things I no longer need or want but are still usable. I've gotten so addicted to the idea that when people tell me they are throwing something in the dump I'm always saying, "Give it to me, I'll freecycle it!"