New Shoes

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
New Shoes Book Poster Image
Fun look at a preschooler's thrill of getting new shoes.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Sequence of getting new shoes: old shoes get holes, go to store, pick some out, try them on. Though the colors aren't named, there are shoes of different colors shown in the art, including primary colors red, blue, and yellow. Shows what the world looks like when you see it through one person's eyes.

Positive Messages

Growing bigger and getting new shoes that fit is fun, and part of life. Kids can voice their opinions about their preferences, and also speak up about how things fit, and if they're comfortable. Sharing new things with friends is fun. Implicit message that kids of different races can be friends.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The kid is game for the new adventure of going to the shoe store and getting new shoes. The kid voices opinions about styles and fit. The mom takes care of the kid and gets new shoes and clothes when needed. 

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that New Shoes is by beloved author-illustrator Chris Raschka, who's racked up a slew of Caldecott Awards -- Medals for A Ball for Daisy and The Hello, Goodbye Window, and an Honor for Yo! Yes? Though the publisher pegs the book for ages 4-8, it's aimed young, probably best suited for 2-4. It takes the point of view of a preschooler being excited about and describing the steps involved in getting a new pair of shoes, which to someone that young seems like a fresh adventure. Raschka's art is characteristically bright and inviting. The child, seen only from the knees down, is white-skinned, and a friend at the end is brown-skinned. The sex of the child is never specified, and since we see only shorts and sneakers, it could be either a boy or a girl. The text is simple and gives kids the opportunity to talk about what happens when shoes get holes, and what to expect from a trip to the shoe store.

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What's the story?

NEW SHOES starts out with a kid who's barefoot. When Mommy wrangles the kid's feet into old shoes, they discover that the shoes have holes, so they go to the shoe store. Feet are measured. The kid chooses some from a display to try on. The first pair feels "a little pinchy," but the second pair feels "Comfy! I like them!" Then it's time to wear them outside, run in them, and show them to a friend, Emma. "I love my new shoes!"

Is it any good?

Events or outings that may feel like routine chores for adults can feel new and wondrous to the very young, and this book perfectly captures and celebrates the experience of buying new shoes. In New Shoes, the fun is in the perspective, and author-illustrator Chris Raschka takes that quite literally, with every illustration pictured from the kid's point of view, eyes looking down over the knees at the feet -- a bold and playful visual choice.

Since the story's told by the young narrator, the child's perspective also comes across in the text. When Mommy puts on the old shoes, the narrator sticks fingers in two holes. "I can put my finger in. Hee-hee! Dirt could get in. Or water." At the store, when the feet are measured, they're "bigger than before!" When the child picks two choices off a display wall, one pair pinches, but another is "Comfy! I like them!" And it's super sweet when a friend, Emma, is introduced at the end, and we see her brown legs next to the narrator's paler ones, and blue shoes next to red.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about needing and getting new shoes in New Shoes. Have you ever gotten new shoes? Did your old shoes get too small for you, or get holes? How did it feel when you tried on new ones?

  • What colors are the shoes in the book? The old shoes? The new shoes? Can you name all the colors of the shoes in the store?

  • Why do you think we only see the kid's legs and feet? If you were an illustrator, do you think that would be fun to draw?

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