Maribeth Boelts is a former preschool teacher who has written numerous books for children. She lives in Iowa with her husband and three children.
Noah Z. Jones is the illustrator of NOT NORMAN: A GOLDFISH STORY, THE MONSTER IN THE BACKPACK, and WELCOME TO THE BED AND BISCUIT. He lives in Maine.
K-Gr 3-Maribeth Boelts's award-winning picture book (Candlewick, 2007) offers a kid's-eye view of shoe envy as well as a message about generosity. A giant billboard featuring black high-top sneakers with white stripes looms above the street and the power of persuasive advertising affects all the children in an inner city school. Everyone wants to own a pair, including Jeremy. But his Grandma says, "There's no room for want around here, just need." Jeremy's shoes rip during a kickball game, and he must wear cast-off shoes provided by the school counselor. His classmates' jeers and laughter are painful. Jeremy visits a thrift shop and finds a discounted pair of "those" sneakers, and buys them even though they are a size too small. When they fail to stretch and his feet hurt, he gives them to his friend. While he doesn't get what he wants, he gets what he needs-a friend. Noah Z. Jones's pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations are scanned iconographically. Boelts narrates in a clear voice and hip music by Eric Miller complements the text. While the author's narration is fine, an African-American male might have been more effective in voicing Jeremy. In a Conversation with the Author, Boelts discusses her purpose in writing the book. A poignant look at the themes of economic hardship, fitting in, the power of advertising, and friendship.-Lonna Pierce, MacArthur Elementary School, Binghamton, NY Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Boelts blends themes of teasing, embarrassment and disappointment
with kindness and generosity in a realistic interracial school
Maribeth Boelts has a good eye for how the shoes bestow value at
school and how Jeremy feels wearing an uncool pair. Much to
discuss, especially in the ending.
--Chicago Tribune Whether children are on the shoe-owning or the shoe-envying side of the economic line, they can sympathize with Jeremy and rejoice in the way he eventually resolves his problem with his too-small shoes.
--The Horn Book Jones' autumn-toned illustrations wonderfully complement Boelts' sweet-natured main characters and non-didactic life lesson.
--Booklist A wonderful story of sharing, this important book conveys what is most important in life.
--Kendal Rautzhan's "Books to Borrow, Books to Buy" column A touching story about how a life short on money can be big on love, good values, and friendship.
--Young Children Maribeth Boelts introduces young readers to [a] complex issue with kindness and finesse.
--Grand Rapids Press In this witty, wise picture book Boelts presents a kids-eye view of a consumer fad that rages through school at gale force.
--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review) A poignant, thought-provoking book.
--School Library Journal A contemporary urban story that shows the spirit of sharing with economy of language and superior craftsmanship.
--Contra Costa Times Peer pressure, overwhelming desire, and the acceptance of what is really needed are played out in this story that is duplicated in schools around the country.
--Library Media Connection