'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 19 April 2019

Review: Grandma's Treasured Shoes

We all have special objects that we keep which are precious to us; things that hold memories of our past, heritage, family and experiences. 

Coral Vass has made a relevant choice of subject. The use of shoes and what they represent based on the phrase walk a mile in my shoes, creates a moving representation of the plight of migrants and refugees. 

Vass has captured perfectly the distress at the loss of homeland, and the significance of treasured items.

It is grandma’s story and begins in her childhood, when the family had to flee from their country and home with nothing but the clothes and shoes they wore. It moves through the years and reflects on all the secrets shoes hide: frail shoes, dusty and pale shoes, hidden with secrets, remarkable tales. The grandchildren understand the value of the soiled shoes kept in a box at the back of a shelf.

Christina Huynh’s colourful depiction of all of grandma’s shoes is inspiring. The shoes walk through the book in all their glory, shiny and new; a different pair for every occasion, depicting the wealth of opportunity available to all in Australia. Juxtaposed against the one pair of shoes that were worn for every occasion by many people who migrated out of fear and desperation to our country, the images add power to the beautiful rhythmic text.

Readers will love this book as it encourages the discovery of stories about the lives of refugees and migrants, and what their lives were like before they arrived here. What made them leave their country and possessions, their loved ones and their homes, in only the clothes and shoes that they wore? Sometimes the bigger picture is easier to understand. Knowledge is power and knowing makes people, especially children, more compassionate and tolerant towards those that are different.

Meaningful and carefully considered, Grandma’s Treasured Shoes deserves a space on every bookshelf, especially those in schools and libraries, but more so, those in homes.

Title: Grandma’s Treasured Shoes
Author: Coral Vass
Illustrator: Christina Huynh
Publisher: NLA Publishing, $24.99
Publication Date: March 2019
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780642279354
For ages: 3+
Type: Picture Book