I was over the moon excited when I saw the cover of If the Shoe Fits by Deborah Guarino and illustrated by Seth Hippen. Not only does it give you the most wonderful insight into what the story will be about–hello, fairy godmother and glass slipper–but the artwork is, quite simply, phenomenal. If the Shoe Fits is a Cinderella retelling–I’m sure you all know how much I love those–about a fairy godmother who ran out of magic building the most extravagant clothes and transportation for her goddaughter and absentmindedly forgot entirely about footwear. And so, in a fluttery flurry of a scramble to get Cinderella to the ball in time, she turns to the local shoemaker for the finest shoes that he has available with a promise of payment later once her magic has recharged. Of course, since the shoemaker already had glass slippers, the truth of the matter is that he can make more and who’s to tell who might fit into them?
I adored nearly every single bit of this story. The plot was fantastic, the artwork more beautiful than I could have imagined, and the rhyming pattern of the words really drew me in. It’s definitely a book I could see myself owning and will definitely be picking up at some point in my future. The story is hilarious in a great many ways and the adorkable main character, the shoemaker, is easy to feel for. You just want to root for him the entire time and wish him all the best in the world. So, while this is certainly a Cinderella retelling, the important thing to note here is that this is the shoemaker’s story. It is not, in fact, Cinderella’s.
I have almost nothing but praise for this tale, my only complaint initially being the fact that the poetry-like narration didn’t always flow perfectly. I would get thrown off a couple of times by the fact that certain lines would be much longer than others. The sing-song quality that it might have had was missing in some parts–not all–as a result of this. Ultimately, I didn’t see this as a huge problem and it was definitely easy to overlook for the most part. But, as a writer and voracious reader, it was noticeable enough to be mildly annoying.
The single piece of this story that I did not like and wish had been done away with entirely was the bit at the end where a somewhat problematic event occurred: [spoiler title=”view spoiler”]The fairy godmother cast a spell upon Mona, the shoemaker’s love and the woman he helped fool the prince into thinking she fit the slipper. It was just incredibly problematic to me that the author would go about making magic the reason that Mona decided to be with the shoemaker. And while credit is due in the fact that the shoemaker protested this spell, saying he wanted Mona to love him for himself and not because of some spell. But then the fairy went on to say that the spell was something about clearing Mona’s head of her desires to be a princess who marries a prince and that was just…not okay. Frankly, how they got together was rather cringey, especially these days. I’d much rather Mona have realized what she wanted for herself. After everything the shoemaker did for her, it wouldn’t really be all that much of a stretch for her to realize she loved him. No spell was needed. That fairy godmother was a dolt. [/spoiler]
Aside from that one issue, this was a lovely story with a fantastically hilarious plot. The artwork was some of the best I’ve ever seen and I definitely imagine I would read this story again in the future. It was definitely an enjoyable read, so much so that I found myself rather upset that I couldn’t finish it when I started because I had to go back to work.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.