Susan Heim on Parenting
March 9, 2011
Being “different” is rarely an asset in elementary school. Kids who don’t conform to what’s considered “normal” are often teased and shunned by their classmates. And that was to be the fate of Willie Wiggles in the children’s book, Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes, by Larry Peterson.
Willie had a very unusual disability: his feet were so slippery that he slid and spun all over the place! His mom would have to catch him with a butterfly net. So, Willie had to wear special shoes so his feet wouldn’t be slippery. Unfortunately, these shoes were huge and had a big lock on them so Willie wouldn’t take them off. And, naturally, his classmates laughed at Willie’s atrocious shoes. But, it turns out, the other kids’ laughter was all just a dream based on Willie’s fears. When he got to school, the other children actually thought his unusual shoes were cool!
I like how this book includes discussion questions that adults can use with kids, such as, “If you were in school with Willie, and everyone was making fun of him, would you stick up for him or join the others?” Questions like this can help encourage empathy and tolerance in children. Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes contains plenty of silliness that kids will love, but with a lesson that gets adult approval.