Steve Light, Author, Steve Light, Illustrator . Abrams $14.95

Light's (Puss in Boots) quirky, full-bleed cloth-and-paper collages dominate this meandering and labored tale about a traveling shoemaker named Hans Crispin, who creates extraordinarily specialized footwear. Among his customers, for example, is a girl who wants to be the center of attention; he fashions her boots from which flow elaborate, blossoming vines ("She would never be a wallflower again"). For a woman tired from walking her dogs, he designs shoes that sport wheels (inside each of which a dog runs for an added creative spin). Embittered by his rival's success, the local cobbler hatches a plan that involves sending Hans into the clutches of a ravenous giant, Barefootus, a visit that Hans turns to his favor. The verbose, diffuse qualities of the prose seem intensified by the unusually kinetic, unbridled art. Light's collages incorporate a dizzying range of bold fabrics and papers, the latter of which were printed with the soles of various footwear. Among the profusion of colors, shapes and patterns in each composition, readers may have trouble finding a focal point. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)