The Grimm tale is updated with pastel shades and a terpsichorean spin.
Stan and Jan, white husband-and-wife shoemakers, share their passion for dancing with their village neighbors, until winter comes, keeping customers away. When they are desperate, a fanciful pair of shoes suddenly appears one morning, multicolored and gleaming with stars. Immediately, a tall, white customer, Mr. Morris, complete with jaunty top hat, striped pants, long purple overcoat, and polka-dot umbrella, arrives to buy the shoes. The next day, the couple finds “three new pairs of shoes even more magnificent than the last pair!” (This series uses emphasis, exclamation marks, and variously sized type to excess.) Mr. Mack, a round, jolly, brown-skinned man, buys all three, and he and his horse ride away sporting their new shoes. Marvelous styles appear every day, and customers keep coming. One night, Stan and Jan decide to wait for their saviors. At midnight, they spot the elves (two white and one black) wearing raggedy clothing (not naked as in the original). The couple makes new clothes and dancing shoes for the helpful elves using apple seeds, dandelion leaves, and daisy stems. The illustrations present a smiling multiracial community, realizing it in lavenders, pinks, and turquoises that make it a little hard to see the shoemakers’ short-lived distress.
With whimsical paintings, some racial diversity, and a cat and mouse playfully adding to the visual fun, this retelling is worth considering. (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-6)