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New Blue Shoes

Next up in the Bookworm series, we follow on from Old Hat New Hat, with another book about shopping - New Blue Shoes by Eve Rice.

The gist

Rebecca goes shopping for a new pair of shoes. Much like the shop assistants in Old Hat, New Hat, the salesman brings Rebecca multiple pairs to try. But Rebecca knows exactly what she wants and will not be persuaded otherwise. "I want new blue, nice blue, nice new blue shoes!" But when Rebecca gets her shoes, she begins to doubt whether they are really what she wants afterall...

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The appeal

This was one of my favourite books when I was little. I think I probably related to Rebecca because she is so determined and knows her own mind, which was totally me. She starts to question her decision after the fact (also me), but decides at the end that she's happy with her choices. I think it's a nice message - stick to your decisions, and be happy with them.

The illustrations work so well in this story. They are very regimented - one on each page, always in a boxed frame and always in the same place above the text. Just like the story, you know exactly what you are going to get. They also have a very limited colour palette of browns, greys, reds and blues, which goes well with the subtlety of the story. It isn't loud and in your face, it is quiet and subdued.

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The book really reminds me of going shoe shopping when I was a kid. We used to go to a very small shop where the boxes of shoes lined the walls from floor to ceiling - just like in the picture. The shop assistants shimmied up ladders whilst you watched in your stockinged feet. As I recall, they just brought down shoes that they thought were suitable, and there were very few shoes on display. So it was quite exciting opening each box and not knowing what you might find.

About the author

Eve Rice wrote and/or illustrated around 18 books, all of which are now out of print. After around 12 years of writing, she chucked it all in to become a psychiatrist. I found an article which talks about her career shift, in which she says that children's books aren't actually a million miles away from psychiatry:

"I'm fascinated with the way the mind works. You're feeling around the edges of that when you're doing books. Writing about characters, you imagine the way they think and try to understand why they think the way they do, and obviously psychiatry is another way of trying to get into someone's head and understand what motivates them.''

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I'm sure she went on to help a great number of people, but all the same, it's kind of a shame that she didn't leave a bit more of a legacy of children's books, or that they aren't more widely known.

Details and Availability
  • Title: New Blue Shoes
  • Author: Eve Rice
  • Illustrator: Eve Rice
  • Date: 1975
  • Link to previous: Topic - Shopping

New Blue Shoes is sadly out of print. You can find secondhand copies reasonably cheaply - try Biblio via the link below. I do get a very small commission, but it would be much appreciated 🙂

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