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Review of It’s Shoe Time!

It’s Shoe Time! [Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!]
by Bryan Collier; illus. by the author; with additional illustrations by Mo Willems
Primary    Hyperion    64 pp.
11/17    978-1-4847-2647-1    $9.99

Witty wordplay, snappy dialogue, and rich watercolor and collage illustrations combine in Collier’s (Knock Knock, rev. 11/13; Trombone Shorty, rev. 5/15; et al.) first early reader. The story begins with a young African American girl puzzling over the “right shoes” to wear for a day out with her father. A varied cast of googly-eyed footwear (including ballet slippers, flip-flops, boots, and sneakers) all vie for her attention through a talent show–style display of shoe-ness that involves spinning, squish-squashing, and getting tied up in knots: “PICK US!” Surprisingly, the girl selects one flip-flop and one boot, resulting in an overblown — and very Gerald and Piggie–like — reaction from the remaining shoes (“They are NOT the same!” / “They are NOT a pair!”). A firm “You will see!” is all the assurance the girl provides; in the end, readers discover that a mix-and-match shoe style runs in the family. The hallmarks of this successful series — a limited and repetitive word bank, color-coded speech bubbles, varied illustrations, and an inherent page-turning quality — are all present and well-executed. Collier’s distinct, sophisticated illustration style (here entertainingly mixed with the zanier shoe illustrations) as well as the realistically depicted female protagonist of color make this excellent entry stand out. (NB: An intermission that permits Gerald and Piggie to insert themselves into the narrative with an Abbott and Costello–inspired routine — “OH NO! LEFT LEFT RIGHT!” / “OH NO! RIGHT LEFT LEFT!” is clever, but may not land with the very youngest readers.)

From the January/February 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Patrick Gall

Patrick Gall works as a librarian for children in preschool through eighth grade at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago.

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