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The Red Shoe Paperback – 1 April 2006
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Ursula Dubosarsky is the Australian Children's Laureate for 2020 - 2021
The earth smelt strong to Matilda and full of things growing and dying all at the same time. She thought about the grey-green tangled bush at the end of her street, full of cowboys and Red Indians, waiting with their guns and their bows and arrows. She thought about the Japs and the Germans and the shining sword and chocolate biscuits, and the Argonauts sailing across the ocean, and the silver trail of snails on cardboard. She thought about the princess in the film, 'How do you do, so glad you could come, how do you do' and the wonderful butterfly bathroom and poor little Karen and her beautiful red shoes. She thought about the sad smiling man with his chess set and the newsreel and her tennis ball, up and up and up in the air, high as the tallest tree in the Basin, and Uncle Paul with his hands in his pockets, and her mother's red shoe falling down down down into the deep green bush for ever.
Funny, tough-minded and tender, this is the story of Matilda and her two sisters growing up in Sydney in the 1950s at the time of the Petrov Affair. Punctuated by the headlines of the time, it shows with unsettling clarity how the large events of the world can impinge on ordinary lives.
'When Ursula Dubosarsky writes, the ordinary becomes fascinating: every small and unremarkable thing is imbued with the sweetest, softest charm. Reading her novels is like walking through a dream: you know you're not allowed to stay, but you don't want to leave it, and when it's gone, you can't stop thinking about it. In this beautiful story, Dubosarsky proves yet again that she is the most graceful, most original writer for young people in Australia - probably in the world.' Sonya Hartnett
I always want to spend more time with Ursula Dubosarsky's people. They are wise, awkward and funny, and they give off sparks of insight that I want to read aloud to whoever's near . The Red Shoe says all sorts of juicy things about how history is laid down one sleepy afternoon, one conversation, one crisis at a time.' Margo Lanagan
Her books, let us make no mistake about this, are classics.' Robyn Sheahan-Bright
About the Author
- Publisher : A & U Children; Ill edition (1 April 2006)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1741142857
- ISBN-13 : 978-1741142853
- Reading age : 14 - 18 years
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 1.52 x 20.32 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 225,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top review from Australia
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‘In a house far away, right at the end of a long dusty road deep in the bush at the back of Palm Beach, lived three sisters with their mother, their father, and sometimes their Uncle Paul. The three sisters were called Elizabeth, Frances and Matilda.’
Mostly we see the story through Matilda’s point of view which, as Matilda is only six, provides an interesting perspective. Frances is eleven and Elizabeth is fifteen. Each day is heralded in with news headlines, so we read about new cases in the polio epidemic and the Petrov Affair. Against this backdrop, Frances worries about a school friend with polio, Elizabeth wonders about Mrs Petrov and Matilda observes all manner of things.
This is a beautifully written book. I loved the way that six-year-old Matilda could observe so much without always being able to make sense of what she saw. I felt for Frances and hoped that Elizabeth would be okay. I worried about the girls’ father and wondered about how much the mother relied on Uncle Paul. I really enjoyed the news headlines and how Ms Dubosarsky built aspects of those stories into this book.
There are some lovely scenes, and some near tragic ones. I think that this book does a really good job of bringing aspects of living in 1954 to life. But don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself. It’s a book written for a young audience (I’d suggest 12 and older), with several quite serious themes. But it’s also a book that those of us who are older can relate to.
Top reviews from other countries
I think any girls aged 12+ would thoroughly enjoy this book.
The Red Shoe by Ursula Dubosarsky takes place in Sydney, Australia, April 1954 ( during the Cold War), at a time of a famous political scandal in Australian history known as The Petrov Affair.
I had no idea what the Petrov Affair was when I bought the book. Actually, the fact that I knew so little about a famous political scandal is the reason I made the purchase.
When I received The Red Shoe, I was surprised to see the size of it. It’s a teeny, tiny book of under 200 pages. I soon understood that this was, in fact, a children’s book.
Though I was expecting something a bit more elaborate , I enjoyed the The Red Shoe. Putting myself in a child’s mindset, I thought it was a good read about Matilda and her sisters, living life as it was during the Cold War. On top of Matilda’s troubles at home, we also come to realize that a Russian spy defection is taking place next door to her.
Ursula does a wonderful job putting together a children’s novel that explains a complex event in a simple matter. Alternating between story and newspaper clippings, she succeeds in bringing the event to life.
Although the story wasn’t what I expected, I thoroughly enjoyed The Red Shoe. It’s a beautiful novel about a troubled family during hard times.