Book Review: “The Shoemaker’s Boy” by Joan Aiken


The Shoemaker’s Boy
by Joan Aiken

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Jem’s mother is deathly ill. Jem’s father has gone on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James in Spain. This leaves young Jem alone to take care of his mum and keep his father’s shoemaking business going.

Mere hardship passes into scary, fairy-tale territory when Jem is visited by three tiny men and a giant, dark knight. They seem to want a package that a white knight left in Jem’s safekeeping. As it happens, both his parents’ lives depend on Jem faithfully carrying out the white knight’s orders.

Here is a lean, fleet-footed tale of magic from the world of medieval Christianity. In far less space than most of her numerous excellent books for young readers, author Aiken draws us into its world of hard work, sorrow, hope, and suspense. I enjoyed this classic children’s picture-book in the edition illustrated by Hungarian-born Victor G. Ambrus.