Such simple errands as buying new shoes were not easy—or equal—for African Americans in the years of segregation. When Ella Mae learns first hand that she is not allowed to try on shoes at her local shoe store because of the color of her skin, she and her cousin, Charlotte, channel their disappointment and anger into positive action. They figure out a way to ensure that others in their neighborhood can “try on all the shoes they want” and be treated with the respect they deserve. Author Susan Lynn Meyer’s beautifully written story sheds light on this disturbing occurrence of inequality and shows the grace and dignity of two young girls determined to make a difference for others in their community.
The story is beautifully illustrated by Eric Velasquez, whose rich artwork flawlessly coveys the strength and depth of Meyer’s story. Put together, the text and illustrations reveal the sadness of the inequalities of the past and the brilliance of Ella Mae’s determination to rise above prejudice and affirm the humanity of her race.
NEW SHOES is picture book for children ages 6-9. This historical fiction story is a treasure and shares a vital message of the importance of equality and pride in the face of adversity. A must-have book for every classroom and household!
Meyer’s message in NEW SHOES is powerful yet gently delivered. This historical fiction picture book bravely approaches the inequitable treatment of African Americans from a new angle, showing how important historical lessons can be integrated seamlessly into the picture book format.
~Annie Cronin Romano
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