cover image The Cobbler's Holiday: Or Why Ants Don't Wear Shoes

The Cobbler's Holiday: Or Why Ants Don't Wear Shoes

Musharraf Ali Farooqi, , illus. by Eugene Yelchin. . Roaring Brook/Porter, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-234-5

In his first children's book, Farooqi (translator of the Indo-Persian epic The Adventures of Amir Hamza ) spins a dainty, droll fable about fashionable insects. A deadpan narrator explains, “The closets in ants' houses were once full of shoes,” then launches into an equation that will make readers giddy: one ant having six feet to needing three pairs per occasion to having at least five occasions means “in short, thirty shoes. All this for one ant alone.” From this math-rich premise, Farooqi builds scenarios ripe with comedy, including quarrel-filled “after-party shoe searches.” Then the cobbler, made rich by the ants' fondness for footwear, abruptly retires, and how are his clients to fill the breach? Yelchin (Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? ) contributes decorative initial caps and a modish Jazz Age aesthetic; his spiky-looking ant flappers and dandies sport ritzy top hats and beaded caps, tailored and fur-collared coats, monocles and, of course, elaborate footwear. White negative space, framed in a pencil-thin line, leaves the glamorous setting for readers to visualize and lets them focus instead on the fruits of Yelchin's abundant imagination. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)