The thing that Jeremy wants more than anything is “those shoes”: the black hightops with two white stripes. All the other kids are getting them, and Jeremy feels left out, but his Grandma says that they just can’t afford them right now. Instead, he has to wear Velcro shoes with cartoon characters on them, and some of the other kids tease him. He finally finds a pair of “those shoes” at a thrift store… but they’re too small. He tries to squish his feet in, but they just won’t loosen up. There’s another kid at school, Antonio, who needs new shoes even more than him. Can Jeremy find it in his heart to do what’s right, even if it means losing out on his dream?
This book was a huge surprise, tackling complex subjects like poverty, peer pressure, compassion, practicality, the desire to fit in, etc. It even, surprisingly, ended with the protagonist not getting what he wanted (the titular shoes), but what he needed instead (choosing unselfishness and a friend), echoing the “want vs. need” concept his grandmother introduces in the beginning. Yet all of these complicated themes are elegantly woven into a story that children can relate to, with a well-paced text and supported by lovely and warm illustrations. This is an amazing book for encouraging kindness and empathy in children, and showing that while material things come and go, being a good person is its own reward. I loved it, JJ loved it, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!