Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
|Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Jeremy longs for some fashionable shoes but Grandma can't afford them. When he finds some in a charity shop they're too small and he has a difficult decision to make. There are a couple of good messages in the book and they're made with more subtlety than you might expect. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 40||Date: November 2007|
|Publisher: Walker Books Ltd|
Jeremy dreams about a pair of shoes. They're black, high tops with two white stripes and everyone, but everyone has them. The walls are covered in advertising for them, but Grandma says that there's no room for 'want' around here - just 'need' and what Jeremy needs are new boots for winter. That's OK, but it's awfully hard for Jeremy when just about every boy in the class is parading these shoes in front of him really slowly.
One day in sports practice one of Jeremy's shoes comes apart and the Deputy Head find Jeremy a pair in the box that's full of stuff for kids who need things and the only pair that are his size have Velcro fastenings and an animal on them, from some cartoon I don't think anyone ever watched. Jeremy is mortified when most of the kids laugh at him when he gets back to the classroom.
Grandma has some money saved up and she's obviously realised how upset Jeremy is, even though he refused to cry over a pair of shoes, because she says that they can go and look for a pair. But when Grandma sees the price she sits down heavily. It's more than she can afford. Then they try the charity shops and in the third one they find a pair, but they're too small. Grandma refuses to buy them but Jeremy buys them out of his own money - well, shoes have been known to stretch, haven't they?
I'm not going to tell you what happens - you'll have to read the book for that - but Jeremy does find out that there is someone else worse off than himself and that there are more important things than a pair of fashionable shoes.
The tale is told in the first person and Maribeth Boelts has Jeremy's voice to perfection. He's young, he's black and feisty. He knows what he wants but he also knows that there's a limit to what Grandma can spend on him. He's got the normal child's reluctance to give up what's his but a heart of gold when push comes to shove. It didn't come easily though.
The illustrations by Noah Z Jones are perfect for the story, capturing the urban landscape and the school environment exactly as you would imagine it. There are a lot of extras on every page - look for the dinosaurs and posters of footballers in Jeremy's room - or the sticking plasters on his sore feet. The illustrations are deceptively simple but they'll help any reluctant reader with the accompanying text.
The story could have turned into something rather saccharine - the boy with very little gives up something to the boy with even less - but it didn't. There's a strong moral message there about the folly of being a fashion victim or that there's always someone worse of than yourself but it's told in a way that kids will understand.
I'd like to thanks the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts at Amazon.com.
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