Dennis the Menace-style newspaper funnies may well be the inspiration for this energetic debut from Lawston and Sams. Miles, the sunny, spiky-headed protagonist encircled by beads of sweat resembling exclamation marks, waltzes into a shoe store and requests from an obliging bowtied salesman the perfect sneakers: "I know what I want and I want them in red." Miles demands the pair with "star-studded parachute ties for diving or gliding through sunshiny skies"; the particular shoe "with the tough attitude for when bullying bullies is what you must do"; not to mention the one "that's said to be truly amazing if the Amazon jungle is where you're trailblazing." In single-page, bright and densely detailed spreads, Sams visually keeps up with Lawston's tongue-twisting descriptions of this pair of sneakers' capabilities. For example, in the only double-page spread, depicting Miles wending his way through the Amazon hoisting a boa constrictor over his head, one sneaker sprouts a hand to hold the "jaguar reflector," while the other confuses the mosquitoes and amuses the snake. Finally, the salesman reiterates the list of marvelous qualities that Miles dictated ("attachable toes, suction-cup grips, inflatable floats, rubberized tips"); however, he happens to be out of that particular brand in red. Despite the anticlimactic ending, the exuberant artwork and mesmerizing rhythm will have high-toppers high-steppin' and chanting along. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)
- Shalini Murthy
Lawston and Sams have created an absolutely delightful book that is sure to capture the imagination of both the young and the young at heart! Miles is a little boy who wants a pair of red sneakers. However the sneakers he wants must be more than just comfortable to wear. Lawston uses rhyme and rhythm very effectively in developing a description of a pair of sneakers that can do everything a kid would want sneakers to do-from bouncing and pouncing and exploring the Amazon to dealing with bullies and zooming across the finish line first! The colorful and humorous illustrations add to the excitement created by the text making this a book you would want to read over and over again.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-"`May I help you?' the man in the sneaker store said. `Yes,' replied Miles. `I know what I want, and I want them in red.'" So begins the quest for the perfect shoes. In sometimes-bumpy rhyme, the boy describes his more and more imaginative specifications for sneakers that are equipped to do everything he would like them to do. The text takes on a Seussian flavor as he adds each outlandish wish. This accumulation is not as cleanly built as the one in And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (Random, 1989), but the idea is wonderful because it pokes fun at the variety of sneakers that really do exist. The salesman listens to his customer's list without surprise, repeats it back to him, and says that, unfortunately, he is out of that particular shoe in red. Miles settles for a pair of jet-propelled blue sandals and flies out of the store, and on to his next adventure. Cartoons made with grease pencil and art markers are wildly bright and cluttered, in keeping with the spirit of the story.-Carolyn Jenks, First Parish Unitarian Church, Portland, ME
A distinctly Seussian flavor pervades this rollicking rhymed-prose debut. Young Miles saunters into a shoe store and informs the clerk that he wants a pair of red sneakers with some special attributes, namely, "long attachable toes for building tree houses with views of rainbows bouncers for jumping and soaring, with oversized pouncers for safely exploring basketball hoops, rooftops and stars," as well as with wheels, umbrellas, big erasers, and other options. The illustrator suits action to words in speckled, busy cartoon illustrations, in which Miles is envisioned in the shoes of his dreams, kicking back triumphantly as one attachment after another sprouts from his hightops. When the salesman regretfully tells him that they have the style he's seeking, but not in red, Miles's disappointment lasts but a moment, and he sails out of the store in a pair of rocket-assisted blue sandals. Readers will never look at their footwear in quite the same way. (Picture book. 5-7)