Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith

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0-06-029531-7 (trade)
0-06-029532-5 (library)

INDIAN SHOES, by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Illustrated by Jim Madsen (HarperCollins, 2002)

What do Indian shoes look like, anyway? Like beautiful beaded moccasins...or hightops with bright orange shoelaces?

Ray Halfmoon prefers hightops, but he gladly trades them for a nice pair of moccasins for his Grampa. After all, it's Grampa Halfmoon who's always there to help Ray get in and out of scrapes — like the time they are forced to get creative after a homemade haircut makes Ray's head look like a lawn-mowing accident.

This collection of interrelated stories is heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny. Cynthia Leitich Smith writes with wit and candor about what it's like to grow up as a Seminole-Cherokee boy who is just as happy pounding the pavement in windy Chicago as rowing on a lake in rural Oklahoma.

INDIAN SHOES (HarperCollins, 2002) is a collection of humorous and touching short stories about Ray Halfmoon and his grandpa in their daily lives in urban Chicago and rural Oklahoma. Illustrated in black and white drawings by Jim Madsen, this early reader chapter book is targeted at ages 7-9.

Cynthia says:

"In writing INDIAN SHOES, I was mindful of the love between Ray and his grandfather. It's true that books about urban Indians are rare, even though they make up a signficant percentage of the population. But the Chicago-specific setting is no accident. I lived in the South Loop and Streeterville neighborhoods for a total of three years. There's a vitality to the City of Big Shoulders, the sense that anything is possible. I believe Ray and Grandpa carry that same can-do attitude in facing their own challenges and living their dreams."


Indian Shoes has received many awards and honors. Check out the updated list!

Book Reviews and More: “From stories about pants not being delivered with a tux for a wedding, to a Christmas menagerie, these stories will be fun to read as a family again and again."

St. Louis Post Dispatch: "These loosely connected short stories are well-suited for readers (ages 7-10) who might be overwhelmed by a single novel-length story."

BCCB: "So permeated with affection that many readers will just bask in the warmth and envy Ray his cool Grampa."

Cooperative Children's Book Center: "An excellent collection of interrelated short stories will appeal to newly independent young readers ready to tackle one or more of these accessible stories."

Kirkus: "A very pleasing first-chapter book from its funny and tender opening salvo to its heartwarming closer. An excellent choice for younger readers."

“Native Voices” by Debbie Reese from SLJ (Nov., 2008): “…especially heartrendering as it reflects the love Ray has for his grandfather.”

School Library Journal: "Shoes is a good book for any elementary-aged reluctant reader, and a necessity for indigenous children everywhere."

Mundie Moms: "This is such a delightfully charming story. Through the little mishaps both Ray and Grampa Halfmoon have, I loved seeing how their love and support for each other kept getting stronger and stronger.... Indian Shoes is a fabulous book to have and I highly recommend picking it up. It's a great edition for any classroom and personal home library."

Multicultural Review: "These stories are goofy, quirky, and laugh-out-loud funny, and poignant, sometimes all together. INDIAN SHOES is about belonging to family and community, about helping neighbors, about learning life's lessons, and about sometimes feeling different but most times knowing who you are in the world."

Booklist: "The stories' strength lies in their powerful, poignant evocation of a cross-generational bond and in the description of the simple pleasures two charming characters enjoy."

BookPage: "Images of sitting around the kitchen table with the smell of bacon frying are almost palpable, and the relationship between these two [Ray and Grampa] is as heartwarming to see as an old family photo album." Read the complete review online.

Book Review Cafe: "tons of great stories in Indian Shoes for children and adults. Ray learns more about his Indian heritage..."

Kidsreads: "short stories are written for younger readers who like rhythms and repetition in what they read."

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April 2002 | 9780060295318; 0060295317 | HarperCollins | Hardcover | Chapter Book/Short Stories/Fiction | Interior Art | 80 Pages | Ages 7-up