Monday, November 23, 2009

Enchanting Review: The Blue Shoe: A Tale of Thievery, Villainy, Sorcery and Shoes

Illustrated by Mary GrandPré
Middle Grade Fantasy
ISBN# 978-0-375-85600-6
255 Pages
Hardcover--Available Now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

An engaging fantasy read, THE BLUE SHOE is a well told story featuring Hap, a young cobbler's apprentice who ends up sent away to the frightening Mount Xexnax, when he tries to save a mysterious beggar from the same fate. Actually Hap doesn't mind, as he hopes he'll be reunited with his father who was sent there a few years earlier because of his own begging, but what Hap stumbles upon is something he hadn't expected. And it's not going to be easy to break out and return to the small town of Apalanap.

Imaginative characters, setting and storyline, readers looking for a fun and intriguing middle grade fantasy read shouldn't miss this one. I especially loved the crazy characters of the Mayor and his wife and the way the story flipped from what was happening with Hap and Sophia back to what was going on in town. I liked how the sand that covered the town from a storm turned to glass shortly after Hap's departure to Mount Xexnax, making things difficult for the more evil characters to move around the small town. That scene is almost comical and very laugh out loud worthy and is hands down one of my favorites in the whole book. Told mostly by a mysterious narrator, THE BLUE SHOE moves at a good pace. Hap's biggest mistake is trying to save the mysterious beggar in the blanket from ending up at Mount Xexnax, a decision that has him stealing a stone from the mysterious blue stone. A move that not only ruins the shoe, but gets him exiled to Mount Xexnax in place of the beggar. And when his crush Sophia tries to break him free from prison the night before, Hap refuses, instead wanting to be reunited with his father. Sophia isn't so easily swayed and ends up stowing away on the wagon and going with, which is one of my favorite scenes in the book. However, Mount Xexnax is worse than all the stories and rumors made it seem and Hap suddenly finds himself appointed the one to save everyone there, especially when the guards find Sophia and hold her hostage in the main building, which is where THE BLUE SHOE really becomes a page turning read as you hope Hap can find Sophia and escape without capture.

Roderick Townley’s books have received many stars and accolades. You can read more about him at He lives in Kansas.

Mary GrandPré is perhaps best known for creating the jackets and illustrations for the Harry Potter books. She has also illustrated many fine picture books. You can read more about her work at

Enchanting Reviews
October 2009

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