How can you not love this title? And this gorg cover?
Aplanap is one heck of a place to live. Seemingly quaint, it’s known for its “tilted streets, cuckoo clocks, and Finster cheese…” (arc p.3) yet it harbors a bit of a dark secret. Okay, not so much a secret, but a mayor who is slightly certifiable in his disdain for beggars (who are instantly banished to the working jail of Mount Xexnax) and his love for his greedy wife Ludmilla.
Ludmilla is quite fond of gems, and since she is the mayor’s wife, she need not pay for anything that she wants. When the mayor hears about an exquisite shoe that local shoemaker Grel has fashioned out of all sorts of blue gemstones, he insists on seeing it. Not surprisingly, he then wants it wrapped and delivered to his sweet Luddy. Grel refuses and the mayor reminds him of the agreement he made prior. Grel had saved the life of a pickpocket boy named Hap by promising to apprentice him on the agreement that he would in turn give Luddy any shoes that she wants. Grel stands his ground, however, since the stranger who commissioned this one shoe paid for it in full – he asks the mayor if he really would like to steal it (thievery being frowned upon in Aplanap by way of Mound Xexnax as well).
Before long a curse seems to fall on the sleepy little village. The weather turns making tourists scarce, and soon there are actually beggars on the street. Hap feels a kinship with a beggar girl who he spies, and tries to help her several times before she gets caught by the mayor’s police for begging. Hap remembers Grel’s kindness to him, and decides that taking a gem from the shoe that has never been picked up to pay the girl’s fine is worth the risk. What Hap doesn’t count on is all of the gems fading into regular river pebbles on the removal of the single stone. Hap again is charged as a thief, this time with the disastrous sentence of Mount Xexnax.
Roderick Townley has written a fantastical adventure that is filled with action, close calls, magic and a dash of romance. Truly a rollicking read, The Blue Shoe has equal appeal to boys and girls, and is a fun single volume (shocking!) fantasy. I found myself reading well into the night wanting to see what Hap and his friends were going to do next. Illustrations by Mary Grand Pre bring this book to the next level. While I read the arc version, the first edition will be printed in blue ink and have a cover worthy of the shoe. Good versus Evil hasn’t been so rich in a while!
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, thieves, socio economic class, race struggles, fantasy, Goddess, greed, cobblers, politics, arc 10/09