Blueberry Shoe by Ann Dixon, illustrated by Evon Zerbetz
A family – mother, father, sister, and baby/toddler brother – loved to pick blueberries. Each year at the end of the summer, they went berry picking on the side of the same mountain in Alaska.
One summer, sometime during the family’s hike up the mountain, their blueberry picking time, or their hike down the mountain, baby brother lost his shoe. It fell off – perhaps while he was being carried in the backpack
The family hiked (trudged, as they were tired by then) back up and looked everywhere for the small shoe. They couldn’t find the shoe, and went home with the blueberries.
That night, a vole came across the shoe and thought it would make a very nice nest. She nibbled shoelaces, and crawled inside to sleep. When the vole awoke, she went foraging for food, and couldn’t find her new nest again.
The vole couldn’t find the shoe because a fox had picked it up and taken it away.
“It smells strongly of vole,” thought mother fox. “It’s a plaything for my kits!” She trotted toward home, but stopped at the top of the hill. With a nip of her teeth she bit through the sole. A shake of her head tossed the plaything sky high.”
The shoe landed in some bushes, and frightened a ptarmigan (bird). The fox chased the bird, gave up, and looked for the shoe….which wasn’t anywhere to be found.
“Meanwhile, Baby’s shoe was being seriously sniffed by a big brown bear. “Curious,” mumbled the bear. “This tiny morsel smells of fox and vole.”
The bear tossed the shoe into a blueberry patch, then began digging for squirrels – sending dirt flying everywhere. Of course, when the bear gave up on the squirrels, he couldn’t find the shoe. So, he munched on blueberries and headed off.
Fall ended. Blueberries dried and fell from bushes. Winter came – and with it blankets of snow. Finally, summer came again.
The family returned to the mountain to pick blueberries. They laughed, and picked berries – all of them hiking this time as the baby was older now. While picking blueberries, Sister found the lost shoe. Everyone wondered how a blueberry plant was now growing in the shoe.
“But who planted the blueberry?” wondered Sister.
“Who filled the shoe with dirt?” wondered Dad.
“Who poked holes for the roots and the rain?” wondered Mama.
Baby wondered, “Who took my shoelace?”
The family picked blueberries, munching and filling buckets, then headed back down the mountain.
“When back down the mountain the family crept, berry-stained, smiling, and tired, each carried a bucket brimful of blueberries – except Baby, who carried a bucket full of shoe.”
The family took the shoe home and planted it in their garden. The next summer, the little blueberry shoe plant grew a blueberry – and Baby picked it.
This is a fun story of family, and also of the animals that find the shoe. It makes me think a little of Jan Brett’s The Mitten – with the different animals finding the shoe. Zerbetz’s illustrations are fun, colorful, and lively. A good book to share with children – who will want to keep reading to see who finds the shoe next.
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