cover image CENTIPEDE'S 100 SHOES


Tony Ross, . . Holt, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-7298-3

Ross (the Amber Brown series) mixes together a little math, some empathy for first-time shoe wearers and plenty of humor-infused illustrations in this quaint tale. An expressive black line and watercolor wash reveals the titular arthropod's angst, with his overly large eyes and raised brow, as he stubs a toe and then must deal with the hassles of buying 100 shoes. A shoe salesman smartly outfitted in a high-collar shirt, bow tie and morning coat shows off his wares, suspended from leafy fronds. The next day, when the hero laces up his shoes, he has 58 left over ("That's because most centipedes have only forty-two legs," granddad comments helpfully). The subsequent need for socks and all the daily lacing and unlacing takes its toll on the young fellow, who finally gives away his footwear. Despite some minor discrepancies in the artwork (little centipede has a window in his room that shows the sun and moon, even though the entrance to his home indicates that he lives underground), other details (such as the little centipede's poster of a guitar-playing grasshopper idol) add atmospheric humor. This lighthearted caper will make youngsters feel lucky they have to don only one pair of shoes each day. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)