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Reviewed by Lee Ashford for Readers' Favorite
“Shoes . . . Are You My Mate?” by Jennifer Moran and Camille Brown is a nonsensical children’s book in which one of the shoes in a pair of soccer cleats, Lefty, believes it is a better, more serious soccer player than the other shoe, Dex. Lefty thus decides Dex is not its real “mate”, and sets out alone to find its real mate. At issue is the fact that Lefty believes games are meant to be won, whereas Dex believes games are meant to be fun. Consequently Lefty and Dex often argue about how a game should be played. Will Lefty find his true “soul mate”? Or will Lefty return home to continue playing with Dex? Or even worse, will Lefty perhaps find himself being tossed into a trash barrel, discarded as a worthless single shoe?
Lefty encounters several other shoes in his quest, but none of them seems quite good enough to be Lefty’s mate. Just as Lefty is getting discouraged, he finds a possible mate in Viper! But things do not go well with Viper, and Lefty finds himself in a bit of trouble. When his situation appears to be hopeless, along comes someone to rescue him, and he returns home, a reformed shoe. This story is nonsensical because shoes obviously do not talk, nor do they run away on their own to find a new partner. But the story clearly makes the point that you are better off hanging around with your real friends than you are trying to join up with a bully, or to become like the bully. The story also demonstrates that even bullies get picked on by bigger bullies, so you should be happy just being yourself. The colorful illustrations, along with the comical absurdity of talking shoes, will appeal to children. The subtle message about sticking with your friends, instead of trying to be one of the bullies, is an excellent message for kids to learn as early as possible. The authors have made that message fun for kids to learn, and have actually managed to give appropriate personalities to the various shoes encountered in the story! I recommend this as a good buy for the children in your life.