The Red Shoe

Ursula Dubosarsky, Author . Roaring Brook/Porter $16.95 (179p) ISBN 978-1-59643-265-9

Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, Australian author Dubosarsky (Theodora's Gift ) eloquently conveys the observations and memories of three sisters—the youngest, Matilda; middle-child Frances, 11; and 15-year-old Elizabeth—living in uncertain times. Growing up "in a house far away... deep in the bush," there are many things six-year-old Matilda doesn't understand: Why is her father (a merchant marine) away so much of the time? Are the mysterious men who moved into the house next door really spies? Why doesn't her older sister, who suffered a "nervous breakdown," ever want to go back to school? Answers to these and other questions quietly emerge as pieces of a complex puzzle that the author artfully fits together. The honest, poignant third-person narrative shifts among the sisters, but focuses mostly on Matilda's point of view, and reveals unsettling details about the family's history. Most specifically, the book brings to light the instability of Matilda's father, a WWII veteran, and the relationship between her mother and musician uncle. Newspaper clippings from the Sydney Morning Herald that appear intermittently between chapters give additional insight into an era characterized by suspicion, tragedy and confusion. Dubosarsky proves masterful in conjuring and connecting images. The vision of a pair of red shoes, first mentioned in a fairy tale read to Matilda by Frances (which opens the novel), gains symbolic significance as the story unfolds and family secrets come to light. Ages 12-up. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/26/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-1-74114-285-3
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-74115-590-7
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-4299-7621-3
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