Keeper of Wisdom (Hardcover) by Laura Berkeley; illustrated by Alison Dexter. Barefoot Books, 2000. ISBN: 9781841482033. pp: 32. Ages: 6-8, gr: k-3
This book has received lukewarm reviews, but may meet a specific need.



One summer, an old beggar woman arrived at a large city with twelve books that contained the wisdom of the world. She wanted to sell them to the mayor but the mayor simply laughed at her. Each summer following the first, the old woman returned with fewer and fewer books to sell and the mayor continued to laugh at her but each winter the mayor had a dream about a faraway city that was prospering with the help of the woman. When hard times came to the city and the mayor was only able to buy the last book from the woman, he embarked on a quest to find the prosperous city and how to live wisely.


  1. This is one of three books that Laura Berkeley has written. Use the search term "laura berkeley" at or to find descriptions of these books. What kind of books does she write?

  2. Look up the word "quest" in a student dictionary (or the Merriam-Webster Student Dictionary online). Describe the mayor’s quest.

  3. Look up the word "allegory" in a student dictionary (or the Merriam-Webster Student Dictionary online). Is this book an allegory?

  4. The old beggar woman brought books of wisdom. Write their own book of wisdom that can help teach younger children what to expect in the grade you are in. Example: Make sure you have a pencil each day for class.

  5. Alison Dexter, used watercolors to create the illustrations for this book. Compare her pictures with those in other books with watercolors used for the illustrations. Use watercolor paints to create illustrations for a story you have written.

  6. Write or tell a story about trying to sell something to a person who doesn’t want to buy it. The study should tell how you would persuade the person. An example of something to sell might be a magic book that you are trying to sell to people who don’t believe in magic.

  7. Name different things you see in the cover picture. Would you expect to find these things together where you live? Why do you think these things are put together for the cover of the book?

  8. Class or small group activity: Take turns being the characters in the book to act out the story. One person can be the old beggar woman, one the mayor, and other students as the other salespeople and the townspeople. Use the dialogue in the book to start and use props like books and bags of money.

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The Keeper of Wisdom. Accelerated Reader: Quiz #35595 EN; Book Level 4.2; Points= 0.5

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