Title: The Orange Shoes
Author: Trinka Hakes Noble
Illustrator: Doris Ettlinger
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 4.9
Concepts: scarcity, human resources, auctions, poverty, wants and needs
Review: Delly Porter walks to school in her bare feet and makes do with a stubby pencil and recycled envelopes as art supplies because her family struggles to make ends meet. She even gets ridiculed at school for her disadvantaged background. Yet Delly’s steadfast optimism and her unusual artistic abilities serve her well at school, and her supportive parents do their best to nurture Delly and her four younger siblings despite their limited means. The teacher’s announcement of an upcoming fundraiser, a Shoebox Social, provides an opportunity for Delly to ask her parents for a new pair of shoes she so desperately wants and needs. Although her classmates’ cruel and jealous actions lead them to damage the new shoes, Delly uses her artistic talents to move past the injustice and become the big winner at the fundraiser.
The Orange Shoes takes no shortcuts in conveying to young readers the difficulty of living in poverty and the importance of dignity in meeting life’s challenges. The striking illustrations and the text’s powerful examples both do an excellent job in communicating the manifestations of poverty in Delly’s life. The book also serves as a useful vehicle for teaching young readers about wants and needs, and about auctions as an effective means of raising money. One cannot help but cheer for Delly Porter as she faces life’s hardships square in the eye with a dash of humility and grace.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children