Reviews for Blue Shoe : A Tale of Thievery, Villainy, Sorcery, and Shoes


Booklist Reviews 2009 September #1
In this fun, whimsical fairy tale, 13-year-old Hap Barlo, once a happy boy living with his beekeeper father in Aplanap, is orphaned when the village's cruel mayor imprisons Hap's father on Mount Xexnax. Hap is then taken in by Grel, the village's humble shoemaker. In a twist of fate, the mayor accuses Hap of stealing a stone from Grel's famous jewel-encrusted shoe, and Hap is sentenced to hard labor in the same mines as his father. With the help of his friend Sophia, Hap meets a network of embittered prisoners who are being forced to dig for a mysterious blue diamond. He learns that the prisoners plan to revolt against the mayor and that the leader of the revolution is none other than his dad. The good-versus-evil plotline, dynamic cast of characters (including a one-eyed beggar girl and a blue troll who hates humans), light romance between Hap and Sophia, and copious amounts of magic and intrigue will be a hit with a wide range of readers, both male and female. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
Hap Barlo is apprentice to a poor shoemaker. A mysterious figure commissions a blue-jewel-encrusted shoe, setting off a chain of events leading to Hap's arrest and exile to Xexnax Mountain. There he's reunited with his father and leads a prisoners' coup. GrandPre's shadowy blue illustrations and the book's thoughtful design (including text in blue ink) contribute to this satisfying fairy tale. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2009 September #2
In a story that begins like a fairy tale but ends with explosions, gunfire and villains dissolving into green goo, readers will plumb the depths of both a mighty mountain and the human heart. An affable, audience-addressing narrator recounts how a tall stranger comes to the village of Aplanap and commissions a single, blue gem-encrusted shoe from cobbler Grel. Magic is clearly at play, for when Grel's charming apprentice, 13-year-old Hap Barlo, steals one of the blue stones off the magnificent shoe to help a beggar, the shoe loses its luster. Not only that, the noble thief is exiled to the dreaded mines of Mount Xexnax, home to the enslaved, blue-skinned Aukis who do hard labor for greedy humans who covet the Great Blue, a giant diamond sacred to the Aukis. Fortunately, Hap has the determined, brave, ringleted and smitten Sophia Hartpence in his camp! Themes of racial prejudice, slavery, revolution and environmentalism swirl through this sometimes dark but ultimately cheerful adventure, illustrated by GrandPré in arresting charcoals and printed in blue ink. (Fantasy. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 October #4

Townley's (The Red Thread) overly complicated fantasy stars 13-year-old Hap Barlo, a smart, nimble-fingered cobbler's apprentice who is also an unwilling thief. The slippery story line is founded on a mysterious bejeweled blue shoe in a cobbler's window in the town of Aplanap, but the action soon begins to alternate between Aplanap and a prison in a faraway mine, where the prisoners (in a plot element reminiscent of Holes) daily dig deeper toward some unknown purpose. The enormous cast of characters includes a pompous mayor and his greedy wife, a good-hearted cobbler and his hungry dog, an evil prison warden, a feisty, fearless girl with a crush on Hap, and numerous, hard-to-distinguish Aukis, a blue-skinned, human-hating race with an almost-human language (in which Hap is fluent--a skill that proves crucial). GrandPr's (the Harry Potter series) b&w illustrations create an appropriately furtive ambience and partner well with the tongue-in-cheek narrative voice. The convoluted plot culminates in a predictable frantic battle scene in the mine, but the mystery of the blue shoe and other aspects of the saga are not fully resolved until the story returns to Aplanap. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)

[Page 58]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 December

Gr 4-6--This tale begins with a mysterious blue-jeweled shoe and centers on the adventures of 13-year-old Hap Barlow, who gets imprisoned and is part of a slave revolt, and ends with the mystery of the shoe solved and a lesson on how not to mistreat the Earth. Elflike creatures called Aukis once lived freely on Mount Xexnax, but now it is a prison set up by humans and holds the lawbreakers of Aplanap along with captured Aukis. Hap and some Auki warriors must unite in order for the slave revolt to succeed but cultural twists and turns complicate this mission, including the necessity of working with Ulf, an Auki who is married to a human. GrandPr's occasional, detailed blue illustrations are well placed and assist in keeping readers' attention focused. The Blue Shoe is a delightful fantasy that brings forth the topics of diversity and ecology in a way that does not have a happy ending but one with a solution in progress.--Nancy D. Tolson, Mitchell College, New London, CT

[Page 135]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2010 February
The author of The Great Good Thing (Atheneum/S & S, 2001/VOYA April 2001) writes another appealing fantasy for younger teens. Drawing on elements from folklore and fairy tales, it introduces a shoemaker, the clever young boy who becomes his assistant, an evil mayor (and his even more evil, greedy wife), a mysterious traveler, a legendary goddess, a despised race of small troll-like Aukis or Blueskins, and the mysterious object that draws them all together--a jewel-covered blue shoe, commissioned by the traveler, created by the shoemaker, and inadvertently damaged by the boy. The mountain village of Aplanap is the home of The Blue Shoe, a shoemaker's shop, named after the fabulous jewel-encrusted blue shoe in its window. It is also a city known for arresting beggars and sending them to work in the mines on nearby Mount Xexnax, which is what happened to thirteen-year-old Hap's father and what Hap suffers when the shoemaker's apprentice removes one of the jewels from the blue shoe to rescue a beggar girl. The jewel becomes a stone, the shoe loses its magic glow, and Hap is sent to the mines. There he becomes a catalyst in a revolt in which enslaved humans and Aukis work together, for freedom and to save a fabulous blue diamond at the heart of the mountain from desecration This charming fantasy adventure, with its good-versus-evil plot, involving magic, intrigue, racial prejudice, and a dash of romance, should definitely appeal to younger teen fans of the genre--boys as well as girls.--Bonnie Kunzel 4Q 4P M Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.

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