It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday! My pick for today is New Shoes.
Written by: Susan Lynn Meyer
Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez
Publisher: Holiday House, January 2015
Suitable for ages: 6-9
Themes/Topics: courage, determination, activism, community, cultural awareness, racial discrimination
Brief Synopsis: Ella Mae is excited about getting new shoes. But she is not allowed to try on shoes at the local shoe store because she lives in the southern United States during a time when Jim Crow state and local laws ensured African-Americans did not have equal rights and were treated unfairly. She and her cousin Charlotte find a way to overcome such humiliating treatment. They work together to create an atmosphere for their community where they feel welcomed and will never experience discrimination.
Opening pages: “My cousin Charlotte hands me the package as we stand outside Johnson’s Shoes.
“If you could have any shoes in the window,” I ask, “which would you choose?”
Why I like this book: Although a fictional account, this story is based on real life experiences of Americans who suffered from discriminatory laws and practices across the southern United States. Such laws began as early as 1890 with the Supreme Court ruling of Plessy vs. Ferguson legalizing “separate but equal” treatment for black Americans. These discriminatory laws expanded during Reconstruction after the Civil war into state and local laws known as Jim Crow. US President Johnson signed the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 that ended Jim Crow. This book however is a reminder that these citizens did not sit by idly and accept their situation. In fact, Ella Mae and Charlotte represent the resistance and the resilience of a people in that era.
Resources: Educator’s Guide
For more book reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.