- The Sock Thief by Ana Crespo
ISBN 978-0-8075-7538-3 $16.99
Reviewed from galleys R 4-7 yrs
The target of young Felipe’s thieving habits on his way to school in his small Brazilian town is a bit odd. Every week he swipes freshly laundered socks hanging on [End Page 484] clotheslines or draped over window sills, and he leaves a mango on the property of his victims. What he does with the socks is also surprising: he stuffs the first with newspaper, and then twists and tucks layer upon layer of successive socks until he has just what he and his classmates need for recess—a tightly packed soccer ball. This cheery little crime spree is bound to raise some ethical scruples, even though Felipe compensates the sock owners with mangoes and eventually returns the socks (seemingly no worse for wear) with a thank-you note. The closing line, however, should mitigate much of the concern: “What Felipe doesn’t realize is that everyone knows his secret and everyone is happy to help—and to eat the mangoes.” Crespo’s appended note explains that her story is based on her father’s experience in 1950s Rio de Janeiro, where hand-stuffed soccer balls were something of a tradition. Bright colors, rounded shapes, and the commentary of early-rising animals who witness Felipe’s pilfering (“‘Au, au, au!’ the dog woofs in Portuguese”) add to the charm of the tale, and a glossary of Portuguese terms “you can learn and practice with your friends” extends the fun. Provide a tub of thrift-store socks for an easy storytime program.