Written by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones, Those Shoes delivers a heartwarming lesson on the important things in life. The story’s main character is Jeremy, a student who lives alone with his grandmother. Like all too many children in our education system, Jeremy and his grandmother face financial struggles at home. This causes a problem when everybody at school has the latest and greatest pair of shoes, some super cool black high-tops with white stripes. Jeremy desperately wants a pair, but unfortunately his Grandmother just can not afford the new shoes. Instead, she wants to buy him new warm boots for the upcoming winter.
After his old shoes fall apart during recess, Jeremy is made fun of and again asks his grandmother for the cool new shoes. They find a cheap pair at a local thrift store, a couple sizes too small, which Jeremy manages to squeeze his scrunched up feet into. For a couple of days, Jeremy is happy with his new shoes, but eventually, they just cause his feet to much pain. They sit unused in his room until Jeremy makes a new friend. The only kid in class who did not laugh at Jeremy’s dorky old shoes, Antonio’s own shoes are held together with tape. Jeremy selflessly gives his cool new shoes to Antonio, knowing Antonio needs them more.
Those Shoes provides a challenging read for the early childhood-elementary age groups. Featuring a moderate level of difficulty, this book is accessible to readers of different grades while teaching valuable lessons about kindness, sharing, and needs vs. wants. Jeremy learns that although he may not have the coolest new shoes, he has a Grandmother that loves him, warm boots on his feet for the winter, and a new friend in Antonio.