BooksForKidsBlog

Friday, June 04, 2021

Making a Difference: Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

Jeremy longs for those shoes--the cool black hightops with two wide white stripes--the kinds that the B-ball stars wear. They show up first in his class at school on just one boy--Brandon--and then on a lot of the other boys, who strut down the halls to the bathroom just to show them off. Brandon even brags that his shoes make him the fastest runner in the class.

Jeremy tells Grandmother that he wants those shoes.

"THERE'S NO ROOM FOR "WANT" AROUND HERE. JUST NEED," SHE SAYS. "WHAT YOU NEED IS NEW BOOTS FOR WINTER!"

Then one day at school one of Jeremy's old shoes fall apart in a kickball game, and the guidance counselor takes him down to the box of spare clothes, but the only shoes that fit him are like baby shoes, with Velcro instead of shoestrings and a cartoon animal on the sides. And when Jeremy comes back to class, all the boys in the class laugh, everyone except Antonio Parker.

"I'M NOT GOING TO CRY ABOUT ANY DUMB SHOES," JEREMY TELLS HIMSELF.

But Grandmother notices and and takes him downtown to search for the shoes he wants at the thrift stores. At the third store, Jeremy spots the perfect pair, brand new, and tries them on. There's barely room for his toes, but Jeremy laces them up happily. Grandmother is not fooled, so Jeremy buys the shoes with his own money--$2.50! A few days later, Grandmother puts a new pair of snow boots in his closet and says nothing about Jeremy's feet, already sporting several bandaids.

But Jeremy's sore feet force him back into the sneakers with the dumb cartoon. He notices that Antonio's shoes are mostly held together by tape. His feet are smaller than Jeremy's, and suddenly Jeremy knows what he has to do.

I RUN ACROSS THE STREET AND PUT THE SHOES IN FRONT OF ANTONIO'S DOOR, PUSH THE DOORBELL--AND RUN!"

One good turn deserves another in Maribeth Boelts' Those Shoes (Candlewick Press), and when the next day brings snow, Jeremy proudly pulls on his brand new boots, never worn by anyone! Author Boelts handles this story of shoe envy and product bullying with diplomacy and a touch of humorous irony as well, and artist Josh Z. Jones' artwork perfectly portrays the all-too-real feelings about footwear that elementary kids have. Says Kirkus Reviews, "Boelts blends themes of teasing, embarrassment and disappointment with kindness and generosity in a realistic interracial school scenario."

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