cover image IF THE SHOE FITS


Gary Soto, , illus. by Terry Widener. . Putnam, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23420-0

Soto (Too Many Tamales; Baseball in April) sizes up the eponymous adage just right in this picture-book peek at a large Mexican-American family. As the youngest son in a household of growing kids, Rigo often gets stuck wearing frayed and ill-fitting hand-me-downs. So he's especially thrilled to receive a pair of brand-new penny loafers for his ninth birthday. But when a neighborhood tough makes fun of Rigo's fancy footwear, Rigo hides the loafers away. However, when Rigo needs to wear the shoes a few months later, they no longer fit him. The situation presents Rigo with an opportunity to see hand-me-downs with new eyes when he thoughtfully presents the almost-new loafers to his uncle, who can make good use of them. A realistic, consistently sensitive undercurrent of emotion runs throughout this swift-moving tale, so that it delivers its message with seeming spontaneity. Careful details help develop Rigo as a strong, intriguing character. Widener's (The Babe and I) highly stylized paintings combine creamy color tones and dynamic shapes. The buoyancy of the art, like the intimacy of the prose, enhances the story's liveliness. Ages 5-up. (Feb.)