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Review of New Shoes

New Shoes
by Chris Raschka; illus. by the author
Preschool    Greenwillow    32 pp.
5/18    978-0-06-265752-7    $17.99

Children are often reminded to look up, not down at their feet while walking. Not so in this picture book that celebrates preschoolers’ close connection to the ground. Raschka illustrates the book from the perspective of a child narrator, who looks down at his or her feet on a walk with Mommy to the shoe store to replace worn-out sneakers. The child’s old ones, as we can see, “have a hole here. And a hole here. I can put my finger in. Hee-hee!” After being measured and trying a yellow pair that “are a little pinchy,” the child chooses a red pair (“Comfy! I like them!”) and eagerly shows them to a friend (whose feet we see wearing a pair of blue shoes). The watercolor and gouache illustrations in Raschka’s signature loose style give a child’s-eye view of each phase of shoe-shopping, with other characters’ hands and feet (but never faces) entering and exiting the frame. Color-saturated backgrounds imply movement from one setting to another by changing from the tomato red of the floor at home to the mottled gray of a sidewalk, and so on, without needing to show detailed backgrounds. As in Yo! Yes? (rev. 5/93) and A Ball for Daisy (rev. 9/11), Raschka focuses on small moments of ordinary life that become significant: in this case, a young child who still needs help from adults practices self-reliance and makes independent choices.

From the May/June 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Making a Difference.

Julie Hakim Azzam About Julie Hakim Azzam

Julie Hakim Azzam teaches in the English department at the University of Pittsburgh. While her academic specialization is on literature from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, she has a passion for children’s literature and has been interviewing children’s authors for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for many years.

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