March 15, 2011
Book Review: Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes
by Chris Singer
Teaching young children that differences are okay is one of the building blocks necessary for children to be able to show empathy for others. The author, Larry Peterson, takes on this issue of accepting differences in an engaging and light-hearted manner. Children ages 4-8 will be able to easily identify with Willie’s feelings of being different and standing out.
While the storyline was definitely geared for children 4-8 years of age, I thought some of the pages had a lot of words. I think this could make it a little difficult for younger children to read. Yet because the story is engaging and fun, it does seem to make an excellent book to read aloud with younger children. I really liked the illustrations accompanying the story as well. I thought they helped express the emotions elicited in the story very nicely.
I did have one little pet peeve about the story. I really am not a fan of using the word ‘stupid’ in children’s books. I know it sounds prudish but I worked for many years as a teacher’s aide in special education classrooms, and I also owned a business where I provided respite care for families of children with special needs. I simply heard too many children during those years get called that word. I really enjoyed this book and I think the message is excellent, but that word strikes a chord in me which I can’t shake.
That being said, I was thrilled to see the excellent discussion questions provided at the end of the book. There’s a list of ideas to help begin conversations with children about how it feels to be different along with more specific questions asking children what they would do in a situation similar to Willie’s.
Overall, a good story with something for both children and adults!