cover image INDIAN SHOES


Cynthia Leitich Smith, , illus. by Jim Madsen. . HarperCollins, $15.95 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-06-029531-8

Ray Halfmoon, a Seminole-Cherokee boy living with his grandfather in Chicago, is at the center of Smith's (Rain Is Not My Indian Name) slim collection of six tales. In the title story, Ray tries to take the edge off Grampa's homesickness for his native Oklahoma by buying him a pair of Seminole moccasins, which the two spy in an antique shop. But when he arrives at the store, a librarian offers the shopkeeper more money for the shoes than Ray has to spend. The boy then trades the woman his own hightops for the moccasins (which, says a grateful Grampa, "put me in the mind of bein' back home") and the woman displays the sneakers in her library, labeling them "Cherokee-Seminole Hightops." In other selections, the duo cares for neighbors' pets on Christmas Day, Grampa finds a solution to the dreadful haircut he gives Ray on the day of a big baseball game and the two share a special moment while fishing at night. Though the author affectingly portrays the strong bond between grandson and grandfather, the narrative bogs down with flowery or overwritten passages (e.g., "Ray's and Grampa's breath puffed cloudy as they trudged next door to the Wang home. In the driveway, Mrs. Wang's VW Bug waited to be freed from the snow like a triceratops skeleton embedded in rock"). Kids may have trouble sticking with this collection. Ages 7-10. (Apr.)