Carolrhoda Books, 2006

Sam is excited about getting new shoes, and as he grows into the shoes he becomes old enough to help his father on the farm, eventually becoming a farmer himself.


*A 2007 Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year*

From School Library Journal: Grade 1-4–A traveling cobbler makes Sam Bennett some new shoes. They are too big, but he grows into them. As the seasons progress, he helps his family in many ways, including feeding the livestock, planting crops, carrying water, and assisting in the sheep shearing. He also plays in the snow, hangs out with his family, and travels to town for the first time. Sam grows not only into his new shoes but also into his new responsibilities as a young man. Thermess tale is chock-full of historical facts and tidbits. Her detailed illustrations show much about 18th-century life but stay focused on the central narrative. An authors note explains that hidden shoes in the walls of old houses, called concealments, inspired the story. This title can be used as an educational tool or simply as an enjoyable read-aloud.–Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH

From Booklist: K-Gr. 2. A coming-of-age tale, based on a fascinating tradition, traces the growth of a boy in colonial times. When Sam gets new shoes, Papa hides his old ones in the cabin wall near the chimney, explaining that this is a custom from across the sea that is believed to keep the family safe and fill the home with good fortune: “Like a child, shoes are filled with hope and promise.” Sam is sure that his new shoes help him do his chores, such as feeding the pigs and carrying water from the well, better. As the years pass, Sam grows up and grows into his shoes and his responsibilities. The ending shows Sam holding his daughter and hiding her shoes in the attic. An author’s note details how the story grew out of her personal experience. With underlying yellow hues and simply lined, folklike figures, the illustrations express warmth among a close-knit, early American family.
An excellent choice for classroom use. –Julie Cummins