Written by Kate Hosford
Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Published by Carolrhoda Books, 2012
Cybils finalist, 2012
Themes: grandmothers, infinity, schools, math
The night I got my new red shoes, I couldn’t wait to wear them to school. I was too excited to sleep so I went outside and sat on the lawn. When I looked up I shivered. the sky seemed so huge and cold.
As Uma,excited by her new red shoes, sits and looks up and marvels at the stars, she wonders how many there might be. A million? A billion? Or could it even be as many as infinity. As little kids do, she carries this question with her to school next day and asks others’ opinions, and then what her family thought. Comparisons are offered in keeping with the giver —figures of eight, family trees, the dissecting of noodles etc Parallel to these immense abstract musings, is the earthy pride that Uma has in her new red shoes and her concern that no-one seems to notice. Uma’s grasp of infinity is finally not sealed by other’s explanations but by a pair of shoes and a grandmother’s love.
Why I like this book:
I love the endpapers with all their numbers! The illustrations are truly magnificent, surreal and somehow dated, yet timeless, befitting a text battling with a topic that transcends. This story is so very typical of the curiosity of childhood, and how a child can switch from the profound to the tangible and earthy in a blink. This is a captivating story that effectively tackles both a complex and a simple topic at the same time. I also appreciate the balance of ending the book as Uma began, gazing up at the night sky, though this time not alone, but with her grandmother. I am also a bit of a sucker for stories evoking special bonds between grandparents and grandchildren. I truly think this book has strong adult appeal too.
A fascinating endnote lets children experience the voices of real children explaining infinity and challenges readers to define it for themselves.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.