Liz Pichon, Shoe Wars, Scholastic, 448pp., RRP $19.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760976118
There’s an old saying that goes something like this: You can tell a lot about a person from the shoes they’re wearing.
From the bestselling author of the Tom Gates series comes this brand new hilarious stand-alone novel.
We meet Ruby and Bear Foot. They are on a mission to save their inventor dad from his boss, the evil Wendy Wedge who has been steadily taking over Shoe Town…I mean, Wedge Town. Wendy Wedge is so set on winning the prestigious Golden Shoe Award that she’ll do just about anything – and she wants Dad’s secret invention. In the adventure that follows, Ruby and Bear manage to not only save the day in the nick of time but set some endangered animals free and solve a mystery very close to their hearts, all with their animal sidekick Shoo in tow.
With her clever use of voice and varying typography, Pichon makes the whole book read like a child telling the story, making Shoe Wars relatable to even the most reluctant reader. This book offers a light romp for kids to whiz through, and Pichon’s accompanying doodles make it all the more fun.
I was most impressed by the number of serious issues Pichon manages to introduce to her audience without ever flattening the momentum with didactics. She teaches her readers that keeping endangered animals in captivity is bad, that ensuring small businesses stay afloat is better than seeing them taken over by large companies, and she even touches lightly on tax evasion! All this and at no time does the story feel clunky or overfilled. It is fast paced from tip to toe and hilarious every step of the way.
The one thing children may find confusing is Pichon’s switching between referring to Ruby and Bear’s father as ‘Dad’ and ‘Ivor’ in the same dialogue, giving the effect of two separate characters in a conversation. Pichon perhaps did this to remind her readers what ‘Dad’s’ name is for when she would have to refer to him by name, though this might have been achieved in a less confusing way.
Kids of ages 7 to 12 (and their parents!) will enjoy this book immensely. Another great publication by one of Briton’s most successful authors.
Reviewed by Geni Kuckhahn