Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes was published in November of 2018 and has received praise for being a “fresh take on a fairy tale” (Forbes). The book was listed on the New York Times best seller list and was featured in Oprah Magazine’s Holiday Gift Guide this past holiday season. The book centers around young Juno Valentine whose favorite shoes do not light up or have wheels. Juno’s shoes are frankly the “tiniest bit boring.” On a search to find her “every day is an adventure shoe,” Juno stumbles into what the reader can interpret as a dream sequence or Juno’s imagination as she tries on the shoes of several famous women from history.
One of my favorite parts of this book is that it does not shy away from the use of color or the use of unique words. So many times, in texts for young children vocabulary is simplified. This is not the case with Eva Chen’s book as she eagerly includes descriptive words such as cornucopia. The illustrations on this spread, and many others, is breath taking and gives an ethereal feeling that reminds me of fairy tales that I grew up on.
In the midst of Juno’s search to find her shoes, Juno comes across the shoes of several famous and influential women from history, past and present. In the story Juno tries on the shoes of famous artist, Frida Kahlo. The illustrations on this page reflect Frida’s famous appearance as well as mimic the aura of her artwork as the page includes lush green leaves, vibrant flowers, and lots of animal life.
At the end of the text Juno finds her own shoes and draws elements from each of the famous women’s shoes in order to make her shoes truly unique and hers. I really enjoyed that this book suggests that Juno looks to notable women from history as her role models for her shoe fashion, but also presumably in her life. At the back of the book there is a “glossary” of famous women’s shoes. I loved this feature of the text as it provides an excellent talking point to learn more about each of the famous women featured in the text.