Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Children’s Book Review, Go Go and the Silver Shoes

Reviewed by Susan Stephenson,

Go Go and the Silver Shoes is a children’s picture book written by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Anna Walker and published by Penguin (2018.) RRP: $Au 24.99 HB. I have previously reviewed Godwin’s Bear Make Den and Hattie Helps Out, and Walker’s Florette,  Mr Huff,  Alfie’s Lost Sharkie and Hurry Up Alfie.

From the publisher:

When Go Go is allowed to buy the most beautiful shoes ever, she decides she will wear them EVERYWHERE!Even to the creek, where she and her brothers go adventuring.

But - Oh no, Go Go! - that's when a terrible thing happens . . .

Many kids will understand what it’s like to get hand-me-downs or need to wear bigger shoes so they will last longer. I know they will also get the compulsion to wear gorgeous sparkly shoes even if they aren’t practical for an outing. (I still remember the impractical and impossibly gorgeous white cardigan I wore everywhere as an eight-year-old despite the temperature!) Go Go is understandable and believable, but is also an admirable character. Like all of us, things can get her down, but she is a real go-getter, and comes up with excellent positive solutions to problems.

This children’s picture book is nuanced and rewards close reading. At first glance, the story is simple. And yet there is much for children to ponder and discuss. How might Annabelle have shown she didn’t think Go Go’s outfits were interesting? What tells us Go Go is upset about her shoe? How does the shoe become a shimmering fish? How does Go Go solve the problem of only having one new shoe to wear? Godwin builds tension by letting us in on Go Go’s thoughts and revealing details that inexorably build to our understanding of what has happened. The conclusion is immensely satisfying.

I love Walker’s illustrations. They are gentle, almost delicate at times. Yet when the story changes, they can be full of energy and drama. Her figures also so perfectly capture that boneless quality children have. I really appreciate the way she reveals parts of the story that the text doesn’t specifically address, giving children opportunities to develop their inferring and visual literacy skills.

I hope you’ll celebrate this very successful collaboration between two of my favourite children's picture book creators by choosing Go Go and the Silver Shoes soon for your family, classroom or library! I loved it, and will be adding it to my list of books to consider as Top Children's Picture Books for 2018.

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