Young Felipe may be relatively poor, but he’s rich in imagination when it comes to entertainment.
Crespo’s protagonist leaves his house early in the morning. He has a few stops to make before school. He must collect a handful of mangoes from the family tree, then borrow some of the neighborhood laundry—socks to be specific; Felipe has no socks of his own—while leaving a mango as a gesture of silent (albeit unagreed-upon) barter. He stuffs the socks with newspaper, twists them and tightens and adds maybe a few stitches, and voilà: soccer balls, enough to keep many kids enrapt before and after school and during recess. Homeward, Felipe returns the socks to their owners—looking curiously clean—along with a little note of appreciation: “Obrigado pelas meias!” Thank you for the socks. (A short Portuguese glossary follows the story, along with an author’s note.) Poverty in Brazil probably isn’t as spotless as Gonzalez’s artwork implies, but the feeling of intimacy and decency is welcome. Crespo’s text has a mildly subversive touch—but in the service of the greater good, and it’s clear by the end that the whole neighborhood believes in that greater good.
Idyllic, and if anywhere needs an idyll, a Brazilian favela is a fine candidate. (Picture book. 4-8)