The Coat

Author: Julie Hunt and Ron Brooks
Plot Summary: This is a whimsical story about an animate coat that sits atop a paddock buttoned up tight stuffed with straw lamenting, "What a waste of me!" Soon enough a man comes along and, realizing some value in the coat that is going to waste, concludes, "I could do with a coat like that!" As the man puts on the coat, or rather, the coat puts on the man, the two fly over the city to a Café Delitzia where they put on a lively performance for a wonderfully receptive audience.
Posted In: Aesthetics

Discussion Questions
  • Can what we wear affect us? How does that happen?
  • How do we respond to certain clothing, certain textures, lengths of fabrics, colors?
  • Are certain thoughts possible in some attire that are more difficult to conceive of in other attire?
  • Do we wear clothing to reflect our current mood or perhaps to give us some sort of magical ability to take on new tasks, personas, and postures?
  • Do we play a role when we wear certain clothing?
  • Does a new set of clothes give us a new perspective on the world? A new perspective of ourselves?
  • Do we wear our clothes or do, to some extent, our clothes wear us?

Activity: “What We Wear and What Wears Us”

Bring into the class to an assortment of six pieces of unique clothing. For example:
A funky coat of swirling fabric with a faux fur trim
A small, but wearable children’s sweatshirt resembling the character of Woody from Toy Story
A hospital gown
An alpaca poncho
A sparkly hooded plastic sweatshirt
A large, striped, collared button down shirt

Try to pick garments that all students can fit in some way comfortably and can attract both genders equally.

Draw a name from the class list and ask the first person if they want to try on one of the garments; if they do, allow them to pick which one. It’s helpful to have a random way of choosing students such as names in a hat or on popsicle sticks. Continue drawing names until each garment has a wearer.

Students enjoy feeling the different materials, posing for their friends, and reflecting on how the clothing makes them feel. Encourage students to take in information from all senses, reflecting on how garments look, feel, smell, sound, etc. Ask the participants to stand in a line in front of the class and display their garments. Allow each student spotlight time to share their individual experiences with the class. Ask different questions of each participant such as:
Why did you choose this garment over the others?
How does it make you feel?
Can you tell us about the texture?
Do you have new thoughts of feelings in this garment that you did not previously have?

Note: Make sure to plan time to allow every student who desires to try on clothing to do so. I think you could definitely split this activity into two parts to allow for longer discussions of the book and of the clothing as both were fantastic discussion generators.
It’s a fun activity and a great introduction to aesthetics.

Contributed by Gobe Hirata