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Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Flock of Shoes, written by Sarah Tsiang and illustrated by Qin Leng. Annick, 2010. $8.95 ages 3 and up

"They made small heart tracks in the sand and followed her all around the beach. They invited the wind to come and kiss her toes. Abby and her sandals had a wonderful summer together."

Those sandals seemed to be getting smaller, but Abby wasn't concerned. She loved them and she would wear them forever. Mom is trying to convince her that her sandals have done their job and now, she needs a new pair of shoes to wear. Abby is adamant...she wants her sandals. In the fall at the park Abby takes a ride on the swings and loses her shoes. Do they fall to the ground? No, they fly south!

"Her sandals flipped and flopped in the sky, pretty as birds, and joined another couple of pairs of sandals, all in a V."

Poor Abby! Walking home in sock feet, she is so sad. She is full of the story for her mother; but her mother won't listen to the 'fibs' and hauls out a box with a new pair of boots. Well, she will wear the boots but she won't stop thinking about the sandals. She draws them with a stick in the snow, daydreams about their adventures on a warm southern beach and finally receives a postcard or two:

"Our straps are aching to hug you again."

It isn't long until Abby discovers the delights of her new winter boots...she falls in love again. They are great for having fun in the snow and for keeping her toes cozy. When the whistle of a northbound train shatters the silence of a warm spring morning, we are not surprised to see the boots make tracks for the boxcars as they pass. It isn't long until Abby hears the swishy approach of 'glorious pink and brown, with lime green trim' sandals. They have had their rest and she is elated to welcome them back.

A postcard ends the story:

"Early nights and gorgeous lights, but we still miss the warm wiggle of your toes."

What a collaboration! The spare text has energy and storytelling power, while the whimsical watercolors give life to the characters, the setting and the relationship between parent and child, and child and her much loved footwear. Bravo!

You need to get this book!

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