Week-end Book Review: Rubber Shoes…A Lesson in Gratitude / Los zapatos de goma…una lección de gratitud

Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri, illustrated by Lina Safar
Rubber Shoes…A Lesson in Gratitude / Los zapatos de goma…una lección de gratitud
Big Tent Books, 2011.

Ages 5-8

Every child knows that feeling of disappointment. Those wild hopes and dreams stirred by the sight of some toy or object spotted on a store shelf or in the hands of a classmate – the toy or object so desperately wanted – but which remains behind on store shelves as parents choose the option that is practical, functional, or affordable. Rubber Shoes tells this age-old tale that crosses cultural lines through the bilingual story of the spirited Gladys Elizabeth, who comes to learn that sometimes even the things we do not value have value beyond that we originally see.

When Gladys’ mother tells her they are going to buy her new shoes, Gladys dreams of what may come. “Maybe I’ll get shiny black shoes like Marilyn Jane … or ..sparkly white sandals like Nicky’s … or ruby red slippers like Dorothy’s…” But her mother crushes her hopes when she buys Gladys the “ugliest shoes in the world,” brown rubber ones that will not get lost or destroyed, no matter what Gladys tries.

But like Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy in Little Women, an encounter with another child less fortunate then her helps Gladys eventually come to see the brown rubber shoes in a new light, one that makes her realize that perhaps there is more value in the shoes than originally realized. Written in English and Spanish by first-grade teacher Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri, Rubber Shoes tells a somewhat well-worn tale of gratitude, although one worth repeating. Wordiness and some bumps in plot timing point to the author’s first-time author status, but she nonetheless delivers an important, if cliched, message about gratitude for all we have, rather than discontent about that which we don’t.

Sara Hudson
May 2012

2 Responses to “Week-end Book Review: Rubber Shoes…A Lesson in Gratitude / Los zapatos de goma…una lección de gratitud”

  1. Gladys E. Barbieri Says:

    Paper Tigers: GRACIAS for taking the time to review the book! I want to share that this is a true story. My mom bought me those ugly rubber shoes at the Buster Brown shoe store and I found them to be hideous. However, when my mom gave the little girl (she had just arrived from Mexico) my old shoes as well as my old clothes I recall feeling emotions I didn’t understand as a 7 year old. As an adult I’m grateful to be able to share my story:)

  2. Frances Says:

    This lesson in gratitude is written in such a sweet & genuine manner, that I can’t stop gifting the book to my friends with small children & it the added spanish lesson is a fantastic feature.