Author: Sue Madway Levine
Year published: 2011
Publisher: Thingamajig, Inc.
Number of pages: 152
Recommended age: 7+
Reviewed by: Renee and Danielle (Mother and Daughter)
Summary (from Amazon): Susie Gardner is a compassionate and socially conscious young girl who is about to have a very special 8th birthday. When a surprise visitor brings her a surprise gift, Susie’s world turns upside down. She becomes involved in a tangled web of international intrigue that teaches her, and other young girls, friends, and family, the true meaning of following your dreams.
1. What is the story about? This story is about a girl named Susie who gets magical shoes from her Grandmother with the ability to time-travel for her birthday. She wakes up and finds herself in the past with Eleanor Roosevelt, who brings her to the United Nations meeting where the International Bill of Human Rights is discussed.
2. What do you think of the cover and/or the pictures in the book? I like the cover and want to eat the cake. Susie looks like me a couple years ago when I had long hair except I don’t have bangs like she does. I also like that there are pictures inside the book. I wish there were more pictures.
3. Who is/are the main character(s)? Do you like him/her/them? How is/are she/he/they like you or not? We meet Susie the night before she turns 8. She is brave. I don’t think I would talk to strangers that I’m not familiar with that come from the past especially with my parents not around.
4. Have you experienced anything in your life like what happens in this book? Of course not, I don’t have magic shoes that time-travel. But, if I did, I would go to Hawaii any time, past, present, or future.
5. What is your favorite part of the story? My favorite part of the story is when they get tricked by the waiter and get locked in the room because it was an exciting part of the story.
6. What is your least favorite part of the story? I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about the story. I liked everything.
7. How did the story make you feel? The story had some excitement and there were things that I found educational because I was learning about the history of Eleanor Roosevelt and the United Nations.
8. What lessons did you learn from this story? I learned that we need to stand up for people when they are being treated unfairly and that everybody should have the same rights.
9. Who do you think would like this book? I loved, loved this book and I would recommend it to girls 8 and up.
Daughter Rating: ★★★★½
Daughter Rating: ★★★★½
What I liked and disliked about it: This book introduces us to Susie on the eve of her 8th birthday when her beloved Granny Ella (who also shares her birthday) arrives with a special present: a pair of beautiful, sparkly red shoes. When Susie fails to heed her Granny’s advice about not falling asleep with the shoes on, she wakes up to find herself in circa 1948 under the care of former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt who was on her way to the General Assembly of the United Nations where she gave her historical speech on the Declaration of Human Rights.
Post-World War II, the international community banded together to draft the Declaration of Human Rights as a mechanism to ensure fundamental rights for people across the world. Article 2 in the preamble to the Charter summarizes the spirit of the Declaration very nicely:
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty. (United Nations, accessed January 20, 2013)
As we see from Susie’s experience though, there are still gross injustices infringing on people’s basic rights, that occur on a daily basis. Before Susie’s time travel, she learns that a Jewish friend and her family were denied membership into a local country club in a way that blatantly suggested discrimination based on religion. Susie and her friends are outraged by this but at are a loss as to what to do. After meeting and being inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt, Susie, her brother, and their friends take action in standing up for this Jewish family.
We often forget, and take for granted, the important work of suffragettes, political and social activists, and other inspiring historical figures such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and Eleanor Roosevelt, who all stood up for human rights. Susie’s Shoesies brings history alive (literally!) to remind us that, sometimes, we still have to apply the basic principles outlined in the Declaration of Human Rights right here in our own backyard. There are some inspirational quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt’s speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations in the text which help merge the past and the present. Here is what Mrs. Roosevelt says to Susie about human rights and how to apply them to our daily lives:
People ask me, ‘Where do human rights begin?’ and I say to them, in small places, close to home – so close and so small that they can not be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. [E. Roosevelt, Dec. 10th, 1948]
Through Mrs. Roosevelt’s sound bytes, Susie is then motivated into action to help the Jewish family and to raise awareness of the injustice occurring within her own community. Sue Madway Levine, the author, does such a great job of weaving the past and present together.
At first I thought that this book would be more relevant to American readers because of its focus on Eleanor Roosevelt, a very distinguished American historical figure. This turned out to simply not be the case. Her importance and influence transcend the borders of the United States and even my daughter remarked that she learned a lot about history, especially the history of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
While the book is roughly 150 pages long, the last 50 pages are add-ons. Specifically, there is a recipe for the infamous “Granny’s Chewy, Gooey, Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake”, a list of books about Eleanor Roosevelt as well as some written by her; and there is also an extensive resource/guide that can be used by teachers or parents for teaching children to be “strategic readers”. This includes questions to ask yourself before reading each chapter, during reading, and after reading, as well as ideas for word-play in each chapter. This is an excellent addition to the book.
There is one issue that I wanted to raise. I was a bit surprised that Susie didn’t seem overly alarmed when she awoke to find herself in a different time and place without her parents. She’s only 8! I would imagine (based on my knowledge of my daughter) that an 8 year old girl in those circumstances would be utterly terrified, but she seemed to go along with the events relatively well. I would have found this more believable if she was older, say 13-14. But, maybe there are 8 year-olds who are that fearless? And, I don’t mean to suggest that Susie didn’t react AT ALL to her circumstances. She was eager to get back home.
My bottom line: I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It is a good story, with a valuable and practical lesson, and which includes excellent sound bytes from Eleanor Roosevelt. I would recommend this book, and the others in the series to girls (and boys!) aged 7 years and older.
Grown-up Rating: ★★★★½
Grown-up Rating: ★★★★½
*** Susie’s Shoesies was provided to us free-of-charge by the author in exchange for an honest review.***
About The Author:
Sue Madway Levine has been working with children, families, and schools for more than 40 years as a Speech and Language Therapist, a Learning Disabilities Resource Teacher, a college professor, researcher, and as a published author. Interestingly, she has also worked in the toy and game industry, inventing new products for companies such as Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley, Hasbro, Mattel, Pressman Toy Company, Tiger Electronics, and The Great American Puzzle Factory. Presently she resides in Philadelphia, PA with her husband and is the Director of Educational Services for The Child and Family Study Team where she enjoys spending her free gardening, making Sailors’ Valentines, and traveling. For more information about Sue or her books, please visit www.SusiesShoesies.com.
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