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The Story Behind
Whose Shoes?
by Anna Grossnickle Hines        Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

What child hasn't tried on big people's shoes?  I don't remember exactly when I first wrote it, or if there was a particular event that inspired it, but Whose Shoes? started out as a poem. I wrote it many years ago.  One summer I shared some of my poems with my children's book writing friends in a workshop and they all said, "That one's a picture book."  I worked on it a bit, came up with the idea of making it a lift-the-flap adventure, made a dummy and began submitting it to publishers.

  Allyn Johnston loved it immediately, but she didn't see me as the illustrator.  I asked her to tell me what she had in mind, and let me give it a try. If she wasn't pleased with what I came up with, I'd agree to another illustrator.  Allyn had a hard time telling me exactly what she wanted.  She said she'd know it when she saw it, but couldn't describe it.  Maybe a bit like Vera Williams or maybe Jane Dyer, but not quite so sweet.  I tried.  I tried with a child and I tried with bears. "Adorable," Allyn said, "but not quite it." 

Eamon                                           Jacob

So the search began for the perfect illustrator.  Allyn and I both hoped to have the book out in time to be enjoyed by our toddler boys, her son Eamon and my grandson Jacob, who both enjoyed trying on big shoes. By the pub date the boys were turning six, a bit past the age for the really young picture books.

The long search ended when Allyn saw the pictures LeUyen Pham did for Eve Bunting's Can You Do This, Old Badger?. LeUyen was the one for whom she'd been waiting. 

I was delighted with the choice and couldn't be more pleased with the results.  LeUyen's mouse character is so full of energy and charm.  And the details in her pictures add so much to the fun!

Sketch by LeUyen Pham for Whose Shoes? © 2001 by LeUyen Pham

LeUyen's other work includes Little Badger, Terror of the Seven Seas. She lives in Pasadena, California.

I was inspired to write a follow-up book, and LeUyen again worked her magic.

If you like Whose Shoes?, have a look at
Which Hat is That?...

Published by Harcourt Inc. 2001


With exuberant rhymes and clever illustrations, this lively guessing game taps into children's love of shoes and dress-up play. Bouncy verses describe the various types of shoes a little girl wears and onomatopoetic verses and the accompanying illustrations provide readers with clues for the correct answers. Hines's verses beg to be read with a suitable theatrical flourish for maximum effect: "When I wear these / clappy high-heeled shoes, / tippy shoes, slippy shoes . . ./ I go / clop, clip, clap!"  Readers can lift the flap of the gatefolds to reveal the answer to the title's question.  From father's "clompy" footwear to the baby's booties, everyone's shoes are put on for a twirl, until the narrator finds the "snappy just-right shoes that are her own.  The pen-and-ink watercolors have a winsome, old-fashioned feel to them. The protagonist is an impish young female mouse who irreverently invades her brother's box of comic books clearly marked "Don't Touch" and happily dresses up as mom and dad. Wonderfully wry touches fill the illustrations with humor. Father's tie has a swiss shies motif, a spool with two needles and some intertwined thread forms the family-room chair, brother's bed is (what else?) and old box for matches with match-stick posts, and more. A merry read-aloud romp. --Kirkus, August 1, 2001

A young mouse tries on the shoes of various members of her family. On the first page she is wearing "great big clompy shoes" that make the sound "glump, glomp, clomp!" Readers lift the flap to find that they are "Daddy's shoes!" Next she wears tippy, red high-heels that make the sound "clop, clip, clap!"  these are her mothers shoes. And so it goes. this well-written story features sounds and rhythms that will entertain youngsters and have them chiming right along. The pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations feature bright colors and a cartoon style. The artwork adds comic details to the story. The images of the mouse gleefully dancing, hopping and prancing her way through the book will also be appreciated. A shoo-in for toddler time. --Anna Parker, Milton Public Library, MA School Library Journal, August 2001

Child Magazine Best Children's Book Award for Ages 0-2
A little mouse gleefully plays dress-up, trying on each member of her family's shoes until she finally settles on own "snappy just right shoes, snuggy shoes, not-tight shoes." Nimble wordplay sets a lively pace, while gatefold pages lift to reveal answers to the recurring "Whose Shoes?" refrain.  --Child Magazine

In celebration of our Child Magazine Best Books Award, LeUyen Pham and I read Whose Shoes? and other favorites to our young audience at Barnes and Noble bookstore in San Jose on February 9, 2002. 

Then LeUyen—in the yellow dress—helped the children make character masks. 

To make your own masks go to
Things to Do.

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