Madhouse Family Reviews
March 19, 2011
Children's Book Review: Slippery Willie's Stupid, Ugly Shoes by Larry Peterson
by Cheryl Pasquier
In this charming children's story, Willie is a little boy with a medical condition that has even the doctors totally baffled - he has extremely slippery feet and just can't stop sliding, slipping and spinning around. So he gets a pair of special shoes to wear but thinks they're "the stupidest, ugliest shoes" in the world. He has a bad dream that everyone, even his teachers, the animals and buildings, are laughing at him and he dreads going to school, worried that everyone will be nasty to him. But it turns out that they think his shoes are really cool.
It's a lovely book for children who feel "different" in any way - I wondered if the girls would mention the fact that they wear glasses but that seems to be a stigma that has thankfully passed and the playground taunts I remember from my own childhood seem to have stopped now.
This is written by an American author and would definitely need a name change for the little boy before being marketed in England ! I get a horrible feeling I'm opening myself up to all sorts of spam by using the words "Slippery Willie" on my blog and twitter feed ! (To any nonplussed American readers, in England willy is a childish word for, let's say, something only little boys have !) The girls, aged 9 and 6, were in absolute fits of giggles when I started reading, especially when it turns out his full name is Willie Wiggles. Even I couldn't suppress a snort of laughter at that one and wondered if it was done intentionally but I don't think it was !
As someone with absolutely no religious beliefs whatsoever, I was actually slightly put off by the Catholic Writers' Guild Seal of Approval on the cover, but apart from the lovely quote at the start of the book - "You are all God’s special individual creations and God “don’t make no junk.” - there is nothing the slightest bit religious or moralising about this book.
The illustrations are brightly coloured and full of detail - the girls loved the little bird falling out of the tree with laughter ! - and the "discussion ideas" at the end of the book are brilliant for teachers or parents. I went through them with the girls and it led to some really interesting conversation. The repetitive text is also appealing to kids.