Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

Joseph and I have similar dancing styles. However, my moves are not intentional.

Joseph and I have similar dancing styles. However, my moves are not intentional.

I love children’s books.

I love all books, but children’s books (the good ones), get all the nitty gritty condensed into a precise little story, excellent drawings and a thought-provoking moral.

The chocolate truffle of literature.

In our home, we have this book called, “Joseph Had a Little Overcoat.” It’s about this guy named, ummmm, Joseph. Anyway, he has this overcoat (I mean the title gives it all away) and it becomes old and worn, so he makes a jacket out of it. The jacket gets old and worn so he makes a vest out of it. The story goes on like this through the making of a scarf, handkerchief, bow tie and finally a small button.

One day, Joseph loses the button. He gets at eye level with the ground, but his search returns void. Since there is no fabric left to speak of, Joseph is unable to make something from the button, so he decides to write a story about making something out of nothing.

The moral of the story: You can always make something out of nothing.

I like this story and I love reading it to my kids because in this wasteful, fast-food culture we seem to have created it is good to teach them that we can use an old shirt for painting, or a sock without a pair for dusting, or scraps of cloth for crafting or an old cardboard box as a house to play in, paint on, step on before coming into the house or any other manner of things. But, as I’ve been preparing to speak to a group of athletes this week, I’ve drawn another parallel – one for my own life.

See, I was Joseph as a little kid and I had this little overcoat. The overcoat was my volleyball career. When I finished playing, I just kept turning that life experience into other things: coaching, continuing education, business career, psychology career, becoming a mother, choosing to stay home with my kids and now my writing. When I didn’t have any fabric left to speak of, I just turned all that life experience into telling a story. My story.

Joseph had it right. Keep using the things you have to make more things and then when all those things are gone, tell your story.

The moral of the story: You can always make something out of a lot of other somethings.

Joseph and I have the same office - we are kindred spirits.

Joseph and I have the same office – we are kindred spirits.

*Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Caldecott Medal Book) – October, 1999 by Simms Taback 

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Categories: All The Rest

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