Book Review: Little Gemma and the Wooden Shoe
- Book Style: Storybook
- Reading Level: 4 (Advanced Reading: Due to long length and vocabulary)
- Reading Length: 10-15 minutes
- Illustration: An interesting mix of realistic and simplistic
- Age Target: 6-11 Years of Age
- Author: Mary Jacobs
- Amazon Link: Little Gemma and the Wooden Shoe
Little Gemma and the Wooden Shoe is a children’s storybook heavily focused on faith and morality. The story, taking place during the Christmas season, is about a young girl named Gemma and her Granny. Gemma is wonderful, affectionate, caring, and thoughtful. Granny struggles with the rigor of daily life, but teaches Gemma everything she can. Together, they have built a life that is full of love, but empty of money and things. You wouldn’t know that they experience financial trouble from Gemma and Granny’s attitude though.
As I read through the book the first time, I immediately noticed just how positive the story is. As children work through the story they may feel sad because of the poverty that Gemma and Granny live in. However, the positive characters and perspective of the book will drown out any feeling of sadness or guilt. Each character in the book creates happiness through their daily activities. For example, Granny scrapes together sticks to sell as kindling so Gemma can have a few “extras”. The extras excite Gemma, who is a cheery girl and spends her time gardening, decorating, and helping people. Both characters exhibit positive qualities, even when they could be sour or mean to one another.
I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about the illustrations in this book and have come to the following conclusion: they were created with intention. I wasn’t sure why they were even present at firs. However, what I realized is that the book’s author highly stylized the illustrations to drive home her messaging, and to give the book a bit of an “old-school” style. Let me explain….
Have a look at the picture below. I’ll wait…. Now then, I’m willing to bet that you immediately noticed the old man’s face. The author has put some incredible detail into the old man’s face, while leaving Gemma’s face very simple. This got me thinking about two things:
- I see an older man who’s lived a relatively hard life
- In contrast, Gemma is pretty clearly the “fresh” face
From my perspective, the differential in facial detail has added depth to both of the characters. What’s more, the scene itself shows an older house in a natural setting, which further adds to the “old-school” feeling.
As I said earlier in this review, this story is heavily influenced by faith. Our author has made faith the focal point of the book and has really driven home a number of faith-based messages. Some examples?
- Gemma is reminded that she shouldn’t do nice things for people and then expect something in return (“no strings attached”)
- Granny reads from the Bible whenever they have time and during special occasions (and as a result, Gemma believes in Christmas Angels)
- The reader is constantly reminded that Christmas is not about receiving gifts but giving to others
When you take the fact that this book has a strong moral basis, good faith-based messaging, a cute story, and a ridiculously low price on Amazon.com ($2.29 USD), it’s tough to do anything but recommend this book. My recommendation is more specifically for slightly older children who enjoy reading. Also, the book’s positive message and its well-crafted style make it a perfect fit for parents who want their children reading wholesome literature. Use this Amazon link to purchase the e-book for your child!
Thanks for reading…to your children!