I discovered this beautiful book on the new book shelf at the library. Written by Frederick Lipp, whose charity organization provides educational opportunities for children in Cambodia, Running Shoes is a simple but moving tale of a young girl, Sophy, who has dreams of an education. Eight kilometers stand between her and the nearest school, and she has no shoes.
When the "counting man" comes to her village he realizes she is staring at his running shoes. He takes her measurements, using the mud by the river in her village, and after several weeks, Sophy receives her shoes from the mailman. When she models them for her mother Sophy tell her mom that now her wish can come true. Her wish is to attend school.
The next morning Sophy runs the eight kilometers to school and is the only girl. She has to stand up to the boys by out running them in a race and then she is accepted. She continues to run to school each day until the "counting man" comes back. Sophy then thanks him by writing him a note in the river mud and telling him that one day she will help her people by building a school and being a teacher.
Jason Gaillard's paintings are fabulous. He blends the pastels of sunrises and sunsets to take the reader to the countryside of Cambodia. The facial features and characteristics are alive with emotion. I especially love the end pages and the symbolism in them. I've included one of the illustrations at the top but the size of it really makes it hard to see just how wonderful the artwork is.
Check out some information on Frederick Lipp's organization, Cambodian Art and Scholarship Foundation.