Published by Macmillan Children’s Books, 2019.
Josephine needs a new pair of running shoes. She buys a pair labelled ‘magic shoes’. She’s not long left the shop when she notices that she’s being followed by a large white bear. She runs off with the bear in hot pursuit. She encounters numerous obstacles: a steep mountain, deep mud and a lake. At each she feels defeated but her shoes magically change, enabling her to carry on. However, the bear is never far behind and, eventually, he catches up with Josephine…
As you’d expect from a Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks collaboration, the book is great fun. There are also lovely echoes of Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: the onomatopoeic language as Josephine squelches through the mud and splashes across the lake, and the reversal of the journey at the end.
Lydia’s colourful illustrations are full of expression and character and there’s a fabulous sprinkling of glitter on every page too. I really like how she also includes fabrics and photos in her illustrations – the red and white gingham for Josephine’s shorts, the lace of the shopkeeper’s apron, the pine trees on the mountain side and the printed fabrics used for foliage.
I enjoyed how the story challenges our preconceived ideas about characters. I also liked the nods and references to other Julia Donaldson or Lydia Monks books: the Gruffalo and ladybird wellies in the shoe shop, and the familiar books in the bookshop window.
Suitable for children aged 2+
Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Books for sending me this book to review and to Toppsta for organising the giveaway.