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The Red Shoes
by Eleri Glass
Illustrated by Ashley Spires
AGES: 4 to 8
SIZE: 8" x 10"
PRICES: $8.99 US, $11.99 Cdn
PAPERBACK: 9781927018859

Brenda Dales (Library Media Connection, April 2009)A little girl’s unenthusiastic trip to the shoe store is transformed to a joyous event when red shoes become her passion. She is practically dragged into the store by her mom, describing her feet as “two tired trains.” Surrounded by tall shelves of non-descript footwear, one red shoe stands out in a faint spotlight. None of the shoes offered fit her feet, or her hope. “The red ones, Mom,” is her earnest request. The shoe lady brings them, and they literally and figuratively sweep her off her feet. In the final scene, she drifts off to sleep with two tiny red-clad feet peeking out from the bottom of the covers. The text is sprinkled with poetic images, while pale illustrations appear to be reminiscent of storefront shoe shops. The illustrations put everything in the background except the shoe lady, the girl, and her mom, as a wish for shoes that are special just because of their color is fulfilled. Recommended. 2008, Simply Read Books, 36pp., $16.95 hc. Ages 5 to 9.



Shopping for shoes, a little girl knows that her mother will pick the practical, very dull, lace-ups. Even the palette that Spires uses is dark and drab, and the child's body language screams disappointment. But when she gets to the store, she sees the most wonderful pair of red shoes and wants them more than anything. "The red shoes are happy apples, waiting to be picked," the text reads. But moms don't tend to give in easily, and the youngster tries on dreary shoe after shoe after shoe. In the end, the bored clerk brings out the red shoes and the girl virtually flies through the air with delight. Mother and daughter have a special moment at tucking-in time, and readers see the little girl with the red shoes sticking out from under the covers. This sweet story will appeal to little girls who count shoes as something very important indeed. - Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg


Publisher's Weekly

Hans Christian Andersen and ballet movies notwithstanding, the red shoes of this title carry no stern message. Holding her mother’s hand, a narrator trudges reluctantly to a city shoe store: “My feet huff, puff/ like two tired trains.” Spires (My Mom Loves Me More Than Sushi) deftly captures the girl’s sour mood, which brightens when she spots the standout ruby slip-ons amid countless nondescript gray and brown numbers. That same muted palette, used predominantly, and several bird’s-eye perspectives of exaggeratedly tall shoe-filled shelves emphasize her challenging task: persuading her mother (on so different a plane that her face is never seen) and a dour saleswoman to allow her to try on the “happy apples/ waiting to be picked.” Spare text and 1960s fashions lend a subtle sophistication of bygone days when shopping trips required white gloves and dresses. Any child who’s ever begged for the least sensible shoes in the store (and later worn them to bed) will definitely relate. Ages 4–8. (June)


Midwest Book Review

Set in the 1960s, The Red Shoes is a rhyming children's picturebook written by Eleri Glass and illustrated by award-winning book artist Ashley Spires, about a young girl drawn to the vibrant splash of color that is the only pair of red shoes in the shoe store. The shoes are a wonderful apple red, just waiting to be picked! The illustrations enhance the contrast between the bright red shoes and the muted grey of the world they enliven. The little girl even goes to bed wearing her wonderful new shoes. A charming, singsong story.


Citizen Times


In another new children's picture book, “The Red Shoes,” it is a little girl whose impractical but harmless wish is met with an unexpected, shining yes. Written by Eleri Glass and illustrated by Ashley Spires, “The Red Shoes” tells of a girl and her mother who go shopping for shoes.

The illustrations are rendered in gray watercolor with only the slightest hint of dark red outlining the figures. The mother and the girl are dressed all in gray. The shoe store is gray and it is packed with gray shoes.

The gray sales lady persists in showing the girl and her mother pair after pair of uninspired gray shoes. From a corner, a pair of red Mary Janes beckons. Against the gray background, how the red shoes stand out.

So great is the girl's admiration for these shoes that she sees them as possessing all manner of active, flirty qualities: the shoes whisper, they giggle, they sing. Once the girl tries them on, the shoes lift her on a breeze that is “cherry blossom sweet.”

The girl's mother approves of the shoes. As the girl drifts off to sleep that night, she smiles as she thinks of her new red shoes comfortable and shiny on her feet.



Canadian Children's Book News, Summer 08

"A little girl goes shopping for new shoes with her mother. At the store she finds herself surrounded by towering shelves with hundreds of white and brown lace-ups and boots. She looks disappointed, when suddenly her eyes are drawn to a pair of red shoes. They call out to her in “ruby whispers, shiny silver giggles.” The girl has found what she wanted! Alas, her mother has different plans, and the “shoe lady” gets busy measuring, lacing up and pulling tight to make four pairs in white and brown fit. “Too big, too small, two tired feet, four empty boxes, eight cranky shoes.” In the end, however, the girl gets her wish, and that night she goes to bed wearing her magical red shoes.

With a few strokes of author Eleri Glass’ inspired pen, inanimate objects come to life. She has crafted enchanting phrases and similes which will resound with readers. One can imagine how discouraged our protagonist is when she thinks, “My feet huff and puff like two tired trains.” The beckoning red shoes “…are happy apples, waiting to be picked.” Illustrator Ashley Spires’ watercolour and ink artwork complements the text. Into the conformity of greys and browns intrudes a dab of a different colour: a daring spark of beauty and soaring imagination – the red shoes.

The Red Shoes is a rare gem that will delight young readers as well as older ones who are still young at heart." 


Toronto Star, Reviewer Dedrie Baker

"Then there's the young shopper's appreciation of colour, as we learn in The Red Shoes (Simply Read, 36 pages, $17.95, ages 4 to 7) by Eleri Glass, with pictures by Ashley Spires.

Dragged by her mother to buy new shoes, this girl's feet "huff, puff like two tired trains" in their plain grey boots. At the shoe store, a crowd of grey, white and brown lace-ups "squat" on the shelves, looming gloomily until the girl spots a pair of red slip-ons. Those are the ones that call out to her with "ruby whispers," the ones that lift her off her feet as if by a "cherry blossom sweet breeze." Luckily, despite the sour-faced shop assistant and a sensible-shoe minded mother, the girl fairly floats home with her purchase."

Scout Magazine

This is a story about a beautiful, almost magical pair of shoes spotted by a little girl while out shoe shopping with her mother. In a sea of drably coloured ‘sensible’ shoes she sees them: the most divine pair of red shoes ever. Sadly, the girl’s mother asks the sales clerk for pair after pair of sensible shoes for her daughter. Grey, brown, boring black. No one is happy: not the mother, not the daughter, and certainly not the sales clerk. As in all good children’s books, there is a happy ending: Mom gives in and buys the wonderful red shoes. Not sure about the bigger message of digging your heels in until your mother can’t stand it anymore and buys you what you want before she blows up - but really cute pictures. Vancouver artist Ashley Spires does a fantastic job of illustrating this story with great detail. The Red Shoes is a great story for little girls of any age. - Michelle Sproule


Resource Links

This appealing picture book, written in simple free verse, tells a typical story of a young girl being taken by her mother on a hunt for new shoes. Reluctant and bored, the little girl scans the seemingly endless shelves. Suddenly her "toes tingle" as her eyes spot a red pair high up in a corner. 

The illustrations, done in soft tones of grey, sand, black and white are both whimsical and realistic, suggesting the tedious task the little girl is enduring. Each 2-page spread contains one page with 4 lines or less of simple text and the opposite a full page illustration. For example, as the girl tries on many uninteresting pairs the text reads: "Two tired feet, four empty boxes, eight cranky shoes."

Of course she has already spotted the red ones, so nothing else will do. A delightfully illustrated ending depicts the little girl asleep still wearing the red shoes!

An easy to read book, this text has potential for both enjoyment and discussion. It should be a fun addition to a study unit, for example, 'All about Me' - emphasizing individualism, decisions, etc. It is recommended for both a school library collection and individual purchase. 

Thematic Links: Personal Choices; Decisions, Shoes - Carloyn Cutt


"The Red Shoes offer a chance to go shopping once again, or for the first time, for that special something. Often times, that special something’s value was known only to us. Part of the magic told by Glass and illustrated by Ashley Spires attests to this experience. For younger readers, the story also offers a great experience. The dimensions of the rhyme expand and contract as shoes play a more important role in the quest than the humans that control the circumstances. 
Equally impressive are Spires’ style of Seuss meets Van Alsburg illustrations. Not only does the art recall a time that feels like the 1960s, but it is a time when small stores dotted the city-scape and one might even sacrifice a tight fit to secure the shoes they really wanted.
Although the primary audience of the book may well be little girls, it is a book that is also accessible to their fathers and grandfathers. It is a delightful story that continues to make connections and invite conversation about the not so distant past. Include this book in your collection, and maybe even buy a copy to share with that special little child that it brings to mind." - John Parker, Media Coordinator, Andrews High School


"The Red Shoes written by Eleri Glass and illustrated by Ashley Spires is a wonderful illustration of a book written for a young audience that does not underestimate the ability of the students. I appreciated the strong voice of the author throughout the story. With simple language that a primary reader would be able to tackle, the author shows the feelings of a young girl who falls in love with a new red pair of shoes. The reader feels how tired her old shoes made her feel when she says "My feel huff and puff like two tired trains." Glass also uses words to invoke visual imagery as she describes the red shoes as "cherry blossom sweet..." This book is so well written that it can be used with a primary reading audience as a simple story starter to imagine more about the little girl and her red shoes. Where will she wear them? What else might she shop for with her mom? Why did she want the red ones? An older student audience could study the imagery created by the authors use of similies, metaphors and other types of descriptive language.
I also was quite pleased with the illustrations. They were simple but appealing, adding to the dimension of the story, not taking away from it. 
This is a book I would definately place in any classroom, young or old. I will plan on packing it in my picnic basket as a treat for many occassions. I rate this book a 5!!!"
Laura Miller, Buhler High School, Paraprofessional, interelated classrooms, Picnic Basket Reviews

"The Red Shoes is a rhyming book. It is written in a "singsong" style. The text is full of vivid adjectives. The illustrations show contrast between the bright red shoes and the gray tones of the rest of the story. This book is about a little girl who needs new shoes. There are many to choose from, but they are all the same old colors, except for one pair. They’re red. Bright red. Like Apples! They’re exactly what the little girl wants. She even goes to bed in her new shoes! I used this book for a writing lesson with my 2nd graders. I focused on the descriptive words throughout the book."  - A. Church, Picnic Basket Reviews


"I just received a copy of The Red Shoes and was immediately drawn to the illustrations. How well drawn are the characters to reflect their moods. I think most young students will be able to relate to a time when an adult took them shopping for shoes and had something different in mind than the child did. Even though the reading level is second grade, there are plenty of words to encourage vocabulary growth." - Julia Pitau, Media and Intervention Technician, Denair Charter Academy, Picnic Basket Reviews


"I just received Red Shoes by Eleri Glass today and enjoyed reading it...I can hardly wait for storytime tonight at home. I remember my own shoe shopping experiences with my mother and how much I wanted the prettiest pair of shoes, not the ugly functional ones. My own daughters are the same way. How wonderful that those red shoes stand out against the blah background of the other pictures. I loved the illustrations and rhyming text and think many kids will be able to relate to this story." - Tina, Picnic Basket Reviews


"Anyone who has a passion for shoes will love this book. I fell in love with it after a few pages. I could actually visualize myself as a child in a shoe store having her feet measured by the "metal monster". I can totally relate to loving a new pair of shoes and wanting to wear them to bed! The book is full of lovely illustrations and is truly a fabulous read. I read the story to my Grade 1 class and they thoroughly enjoyed it. I would recommend it to all ages." - K. Evans, Picnic Basket Reviews


"A simple story and simple illustrations compliment the vivid language of this book. The main character is a little girl who has to endure shopping for new shoes - boring, brown lace-ups. She becomes entranced with the red ones and as every child knows they will be the shoes which will change one's life. This book has similies, metaphors, and numerous adjectives making it a great start for any writing lesson." - Pat K., Picnic Basket Reviews


The Red Shoes by Eleri Glass (illustrated by Ashley Spires) is a gorgeous hardcover from Canadian independent publisher Simply Read Books. With a narrative that reads like poetry, and illustrations which evoke a time gone by, this is the perfect book for pint-sized shoe-aholics or, better still, to be given by a shoe-loving mum or aunty! - We Heart Books

"Because I now have a daughter this book brings a whole new meaning to me!!  The Red Shoes is about a little girl and her shoe shopping dilemma.  Who doesn't like to shoe shop?! BUT - what if you are shoe shopping and you have to buy the practical BROWN pair of shoes when you'd really rather have the BEAUTIFUL red pair!?!?  There is the dilemma for this adorable little girl.  Even the saleslady is "pushing" for the practical shoes but when mom gives in and lets this little girl try on the red pair - it is LOVE - "Cherry Blossom Sweet" as this little girl puts it. What a great book by Eleri Glass and such adorable illustrations by Ashley Spires.  I am definately taking this one home to read to Chloe - she WILL relate."


Joissa Copywriter - 

Did I mention I had a fixation on red shoes? When I spotted The Red Shoes by Eleri Glass and Ashley Spires, I had to have it.

The Red Shoes tells the story of a little girl who goes shoe shopping with her mum. Every little girl will know how she feels. Her mum wants her to have the ugly brown shoes but there’s one pair of beautiful red shoes whispering out to her from the corner of the shop and she absolutely must have them.

The text is beautifully constructed with lines like “The red shoes are happy apples, waiting to be picked” and the illustrations are in muted colours – all of them, that is, except for the red shoes.

The Red Shoes is a great read aloud book for little girls (and not so little).

The Red Shoes by Eleri Glass and illustrated by Ashley Spires is published by Simply Read Books