Reviews for Lenas Shoes Are Nervous

by Keith Calabrese

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

PreS-K-This clever story confronts kindergarten jitters in a unique way. Lena has her clothes ready for her first day, but her shoes are nervous. She finds her dad, and together they decide that her headband should convince the shoes. The headband reminds the shoes about other moments of bravery, and Lena's threat to wear her slippers tips the balance. They hesitate at the playground, "...but not for long." The brief, humorous text includes clever dialogue between Lena and her supportive father throughout. By casting the shoes as the nervous ones, Calabrese allows Lena to embrace her excitement, yet confront her concerns about the new experience. Her father encourages her to solve her own problem, empowering Lena while acknowledging her fears. Medina's digitally rendered, childlike illustrations fit the story perfectly. The cover's close-up image of Lena's shoes crossed over each other do, indeed, look nervous. Several of the spreads have the backgrounds drawn in black lines on white, with the only color being Lena, her dad, and the clothing itself, drawing the eyes to the central conflict. VERDICT This innovative first day of school story will be a welcome addition to libraries everywhere.-Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Lena projects her nervousness about the first day of school onto her shoes, but how does one reach dtente with footwear?Lena is very excited for school. So is her dress, which is "very outgoing." But those shoes are quaking in their, um, shoes. Lena's dad suggests talking to them, but Lena is very matter-of-fact: They're shoes. Duh! But her other clothes can talk to her footwear. Lena puts her headband next to her shoes and listens as the shoes express their fear: School is "big and loud and different." The headband reminds the shoes of similar situations that they got through by being brave together, vignettes showing a doctor visit, a scary movie, and a big dog. The shoes are still unsure, so Lena announces she'll wear her slippers. That does it. The final spread shows all the schoolchildren from the waist down, their shoes the focus. The seemingly digital illustrations use flat, solid colors in bright hues against brilliant backgrounds, several pages just black and white outlines with a few items picked out in vivid color for effect. Beige-skinned Lena's dad's skin is several shades darker than her own, and he has puffy brown hair. Her classmates are diverse and include a girl in hijab and a child in a wheelchair. The reminder of other tough situations survived may not be enough to calm readers' own fears, however, despite the appealing whimsy of the device.A novel though probably not universal look at first-day jitters. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Lena is pumped to start kindergarten, but she may have to call the whole thing off. As she explains to Dad, her shoes, which are essential to her first day ensemble, are having serious second thoughts. While Dad waits patiently, Lena enlists her headband, who is "friends with everybody," to listen to the shoes' fears ("School is big and loud and different and they'd really rather not go") and remind them of "other times they were all scared but decided to be brave, together," such as getting vaccinated and an encounter with a big dog. Lena throws in some reverse psychology-"Looks like I'll have to wear my slippers," she tells her shoes, and it's off to school for everyone. Medina (ABC Pasta) employs digital cartooning, a mix of fluid ink lines and flat, bright colors, to supply a steady flow of visual energy. Making his debut, talent-to-watch Calabrese brings flawless comic timing and a fresh twist to the back-to-school theme. Ages 4-8. (July) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Lena isn't nervous to start kindergarten...but her shoes are. Lena enlists her headband (who is "a good listener") to talk to them, and, with fears assuaged and a bit of reverse psychology, Lena and her outfit make it to the first day. Child-friendly digital illustrations depict the shaking shoes; the happy results of previous times Lena was brave; and, finally, everyone's shoes mingling happily on the playground. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.