Amy's Reviews > Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
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Nov 15, 11

Read in November, 2011

1) Genre: Traditional

2) This is such a heartwarming “rags to riches" story. Joseph starts off with a little overcoat and over time, due to the wear and tear, the overcoat becomes smaller and smaller. His positive attitude throughout really gives the meaning to the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”

3) Critique:

a) The message of making the most of out of life with the resources you’re given is the best feature of this book.

b) From the very beginning, the reader can tell that Joseph’s little overcoat is very old and patches are even sewed over his tattered holes. As the book states, he didn’t let this stop him “So he made a jacket out of it and went to the fair” (pgs. 6-7). This continues as the original jacket gets smaller and he still has fun from going to dance at his nephew’s wedding (pg. 8) to singing in the men’s chorus (pgs. 11-12). Joseph just can’t be stopped!

c) Spoiler Alert! The book progresses and eventually Joseph’s little overcoat is simply a little button and he loses it. The picture shows him in his home with other worn and tattered furnishings and it says, “Now he had nothing” (pg. 27) Instead of letting it get him down, however, he simply made a book about it! The concluding sentence is “Which shows…you can always make something out of nothing!” (pg. 29) The message of this story is so simple, but yet is so powerful in a time where we often feel like we can’t live without our prized possessions.

4) Curriculum Connection: This would be a great introduction to an assignment where students think about their favorite possession for example a stuffed animal. They could think of approximately 6 (similar to Joseph) things that happen to the possession that somehow transforms it into something smaller. Every student’s ending can be the same (they wrote a book) and this could show students that if they were ever faced with a similar obstacle like Joseph, they would be able to get through it too!
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