Because Sadie mostly wears hand-me-downs from her brothers, she gets some dismissive stares at school. One day she discovers "the most beautiful shoes ever" in a store window. Her mother thoughtfully buys them for her, a little big so that they'll last longer.
But when Sadie and her brothers adventure across stepping stones on a picnic, one of Sadie's new silver shoes slips into the water and starts floating away. Illustrator Anna Walker has a special knack for action, and we see Sadie and her brothers scrambling, stumbling, slipping, and falling into the water, trying to retrieve her shoe — all to no avail. "It was swept down the creek," author Jane Godwin tells us, "like a shimmering silver fish." The tree trunks now appear extra tall and barren so that we can see how forlorn Sadie looks, trudging home with only one shoe.
She tries to cope by wearing her one remaining silver shoe along with an old sports shoe, but a girl at school rubs salt into the wound by pointing out that the shoes don't match. So we can understand why Sadie feels nervous when Ellie, a new girl in her class, stares at her lone silver shoe. Will she, too, reject Sadie for being different?
It's then that the story turns around, as Sadie and Ellie discover something remarkable that they share in common. So begins what promises to be a steadfast friendship, one with only joy and no judgment about clothing.
Godwin's spare, careful word choices paired with Walker's attention to color, detail, and feeling — even little things like Sadie wearing her shoes when she takes a bubble bath — give this book a special immediacy. It's written for children ages 3 - 7 and holds appeal for any child looking for where, how, and with whom they fit in.