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My Shoes and I Hardcover – February 1, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3—In this story of an arduous journey, Mario and his father leave their home and friends in El Salvador for a reunion in the United States with Mamá. The child is sad to go, but his mother has sent a pair of new shoes that "will take me anywhere." Along the way, they face many obstacles: a pack of hungry dogs steals their food in Guatemala City and Papa loses his wallet at the bus terminal in Mexico City. They cross deserts, mountains, and rivers—and three borders. Mario's shoes become soiled, torn, and water-logged, but with each setback, he croons a lullaby: "Sana, sana, colita de rana" and reassures himself that everything will be okay. On the banks of the final river, Mario summons his resolve: "I become a horse. My shoes will ride on me. They are on my shoulder. "'Don't worry, shoes, we will cross the finish line,' I say to them." This inspiring tale soars with real emotions, even as it celebrates the resiliency of children. Vanden Broeck's color-drenched illustrations on weathered backgrounds add immediacy and detail. This moving, heartfelt tale of courage and perseverance will be embraced by a wide audience of readers, young and old.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Mario’s mother sends him a pair of beautiful new shoes for his walk from El Salvador to the U.S., where he will join her. As he and his father struggle with inclement weather, harsh terrain, and fatigue, Mario imagines his shoes are racing cars, volcanoes, and other powerful forces. The shoes grow filthy, develop holes, and wear down, but Mario and his father finally ford a river and join his mother in the U.S. Although adults will understand the setting, Mario’s plight is not explained, and much of his survival story is compressed, so children will have questions. Some may object because this seems to be an uncritical story of illegal immigration. The appropriately grainy illustrations portray the story from a variety of perspectives but focus on the shoes, as a symbol of Mario’s journey. A map is not included, but an appended note explains the nursery rhyme that Mario recites. Based on the author’s personal story, this picture book is best suited for multicultural studies, especially Latino and immigrant units, where it will provoke discussion. Grades 2-4. --Linda Perkins
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Top customer reviews
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ILLUSTRATIONS: The painting style of the artist makes each page look like a mural on a wall with a slightly washed out look. They are nicely detailed.
THE GOOD: The author uses lyrical and descriptive prose that gives you a feel for the long journey. The wear on the shoes also shows you how hard the journey was.
THE NOT AS GOOD: First, I was quite uncomfortable that this picture book for children was detailing an illegal border crossing into the U.S. Yes, father and son took a long hard journey to reunite with the mother, but what they did was wrong and I would have a very hard time explaining to a child why it is okay in a picture book, but not in real life. Also, there was quite an emphasis on the shoes. This type of metaphor may go over the heads of many children.
AGE RECOMMENDATION: Advertized for ages 7-9
This book, based on the author's actual experience immigrating into the United States from El Salvador, presents a compelling view of the hardships experienced by some migrants with big hopes but limited resources.