Ruby Red Shoes (Kate Knapp, HarperCollins)
Ruby Red Shoes is a white hare, so named after footwear given to her by her grandma when she was a baby. Raised by her gentle babushka to be ‘an aware hare’, Ruby grows up sensitive to everyone’s feelings and learns to talk and sing to flora and fauna. She spends most of her time pottering in the garden, growing all the produce and flowers. Alliteration is used in the text but sparingly: busy bees are calmed with gentle words, while crunchy carrots and ravishing radishes are great for snacking. Kate Knapp’s illustrations impress with their delicacy and gorgeous use of colour. Her artwork is dainty and pretty, from the brightly decorated caravan that Ruby lives in, to the pink blossoming tree in her garden and the assorted knick-knacks that adorn her home. However, there’s also lots of white space around the drawings, which gives the book a clean and uncluttered feel. The loving relationships that Ruby cultivates in her environment and the self-sufficient and resourceful messages in the book are appealing. Primary school-aged children, especially girls, will delight in pictures of buttons in jars, posies in jugs and beautifully dressed Ruby who’s always wearing a pair of red shoes.
Thuy On is a Melbourne-based reviewer