Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-Of-School Dilemma is a new take on an old theme: child is nervous about the first day of school. Instead of Lena saying she is nervous, Keith Calabrese has Lena’s shoes show their apprehension and has Lena telling her father they are nervous. The combination of a child’s imagination (the dress and shoes do not speak but everyone loves the green headband) and the real feelings will be humorous for most readers. And while I appreciate the story and the artwork of Juana Medina immensely, I can only give this a three. It is “cute” and that is its saving grace.
The great part of the book is in two parts: the first, Lena’s realism (though her lollygagging made me want to holler, “Hurry up! You’ll be late!”) therefore her relatability to most children. And second, the fact that Lena is just a normal child with a somewhat non-traditional looking life. Mom is not mentioned (therefore a child can think “divorce” or “mom is at work”) and neither Lena or her father are Caucasian, but this is not made a “big deal” of.
The other part that is a plus is the bright, child-like colors. They are bold but not overpowering. The preschool to kindergartener will appreciate the action of them, while there is actually very little traditional action events happening. The ending (while not my favorite part) does work for the storyline and the characters personalities.
With all the above said, I am looking forward to more stories by Calabrese. In fact, I hope we see Lena have a few more adventures as well.