The Barefoot King: A Story about Feeling Frustrated
By Andrew Jordan Nance
Illustrated by Olivia Holden
Bala Kids 2020; 32 pp., $16.95 (cloth)
Creet, a young king with a clever but aimless mind—and a habit of walking barefoot—stubs his toe on a rock while out on his daily stroll. Later, he can’t stop thinking about the problem of rocks along paths, so he comes up with a solution: cover the land with leather. His subjects immediately put the plan into action—gathering and sewing soft leather to drape across the entire countryside. But it soon becomes apparent that this solution has some very negative consequences. Through clever rhymes and lush, vibrant illustrations, this fable, inspired by the teachings of the Buddhist sage Shantideva, shows us how mental focus and skillful action may be the best solution to life’s many inevitable irritations. As my eight-year-old daughter remarked, “It’s a story about mindfulness, wearing shoes when you need them, and paying attention to where you’re putting your feet.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.