A mostly new take on a very old rhyme.
Cabrera makes many updates to the traditional Mother Goose rhyme about the “old woman who lived in a shoe.” It’s immediately apparent that this “old woman,” while perhaps reinforcing some expectations with her appearance as a white woman with her gray hair in a bun, is apple-cheeked and kindly—she’s definitely not one who would whip soundly the “so many children” in her care. Instead, the repeated refrain that she “kissed them all lovingly” punctuates moments in which innovation and love support her tender care of the diverse group of 10 children and five animals that live with her in a shoe-shaped house. They also have a car shaped like a shoe, and when it breaks down, or when the children break some furniture or need their clothes mended, the old woman is neither exasperated nor angry. She is resourceful, and a pocketful of tools in her dress helps her to “make do.” Soft colors and the rounded forms of the characters against bright washes of background add to the gentle spirit of the text. The penultimate spread sets them against white space, which emphasizes the chaos of this scene, and all is resolved with a loving “cuddle” at book’s end.
Welcome to a new Old Woman and her little ones, too. (Picture book. 2-5)