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The Red Shoe

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  457 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Funny, tough-minded and tender, this is the story of Matilda and her two sisters growing up in Sydney, Australia, in the early 1950s. Their father is mentally unstable and largely absent, their mother is possibly in the thrall of his brother, and a headline-making Russian spy defection is taking place next door. Punctuated by the headlines of the times, The Red Shoe depict ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Roaring Brook Press (first published January 1st 2006)
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3.19  · 
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 ·  457 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Dec 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes I feel like we in America are now so accustomed to a shiny, glossy, corporate edited McMansion of a novel with a tight plot and rip roaring action, that we can't appreciate anything unusual. We can't find the patience to sit with something entirely new that whispers instead of roars.

The Red Shoe is unusual, and I found it incredibly stirring. Yes, like other reviewers have said, definitely subtle, like an E.M. Forster novel. Forster was the master of subtlety. The Red Shoe reminds me
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘Will you read me a story?’

Over ten days, between Sunday 11 April 1954 and Easter Tuesday 20 April 1954, this story introduces big events into the lives of three sisters on the outskirts of Sydney.

‘In a house far away, right at the end of a long dusty road deep in the bush at the back of Palm Beach, lived three sisters with their mother, their father, and sometimes their Uncle Paul. The three sisters were called Elizabeth, Frances and Matilda.’

Mostly we see the story through Matilda’s point of v
I didn't really enjoy this book. It was written well and the original newspaper clippings from the time the book was set between each chapter was interesting, but it was just quite boring. The pacing was also a little odd, especially at the end.
Oct 05, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Maybe people who don't mind reading a pointless story
I can't quite put my finger on what I disliked so much about this book. Probably a combination of a reader reading far too fast, nothing really happening until the end of CD 3 (almost the end of the book) and just being really, really boring. If this YA book is supposed to make young people read and get interested in Australian history, then I don't know...

It just seemed like a string of not very exciting, random events... "Today Mathilda's family went to the movies, the next day they went to th
Louise (A Strong Belief in Wicker)
I can't believe that it takes me so long to getting to read some authors. Ursula Dubosarsky is a great discovery, and I am looking forward to reading more of her books. The Red Shoe is a clever exploration of an Australian childhood in the 1950s- 3 sisters growing up on the edge of Sydney- a story to show how the large events of the world can impact on ordinary lives. Beautifully written.

May 09, 2008 rated it liked it
The story is told through the alternating point of view of three sisters: Matilda (6), Frances (11) and Elizabeth (15). The events of a mysterious neighbor "who looks like a spy" (according to Matilda) are recounted alongside flashbacks and hardships dealing with their father, a veteran of World War II, who suffers from post-traumatic stress and often leaves his family for lengths of time. The girls, who often experience related feelings of isolation and misunderstanding, live in a rundown home ...more
Corinne Edwards
I'm having a hard time putting my finger on a plot in this book. The setting is Australia post World War II and throughout the text are actual news headlines and stories about the events of the time. The newspaper clippings interested me and was why I read the book in the first place. The sad thing is, and maybe it's because I'm not Australian, but they actually added very little to the story for me. They were interesting in their own right, but almost distracting from the story.

You get a sense
Gemma Wiseman
The scattered debris of post war worlds is all here. The headlines of the day cut into the home lives. Disturbingly, perspectives of home mirror the crises on larger scales. This is not a novel based on a traditional, linear narrative sequence. It is like mini memoirs co-existing spiced with flashbacks; mainly the memoirs of children growing up in a world they barely understand. The effect is mesmerising; a sense of sadness grappling with the right to find some kind of happiness - with a little ...more
Ashleigh Mathes
I finished this book earlier today and I'm still not fully sure as of what it is actually about. It's a good piece of writing, but I found it a struggle to lose myself in this book. And I still can't make sense of the plot.
I really wanted to like it and it started out really good, but it left me feeling disappointed in the end.
Sean Harding
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Nicely witten story of growing up in 1950's Sydney Australia, with headlines from the SMH interspersed within the story. The story is vividly created and she makes you feel involved in this world.
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. I think the narration is really clever - you mostly see the story through the POV of the youngest sister, Matilda, but the occasional glimpses of perspective from other characters was elegantly done. I thought it might be an 'each chapter the perspective changes' story, but the perspective changes were more clever than that and Matilda remained the focus.

I've read some reviews here criticising the book for not having a story or plot. I did not find this a problem. The thing is
Susan  Wilson
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Another wonderful coming of age story from Ursula Dubosarsky. A short novel at only 181 pages, she manages to delicately weave a tale that kept me on tender hooks from the first chapter...strangely the retelling of a grim Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. A mesmerizing story told from the perspective of the three central characters - 15, 11 and 6 year old sisters. The intertwining of real clippings from the Sydney Morning Herald from April 1954 it worked well and the story came together perfec ...more
Aug 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
A very subtle and interesting story about three girls and their dysfunctional family. It is set during the time of the Petrov affair, when communist spies were receiving a lot of media focus. The father is a war veteran and tries to hang himself. I really loved the character of Matilda; she is curious and imaginative. Although I enjoyed this book I don't know that it would appeal to students. As I said, it is very subtle.
Yuck. Good thing this was a short one that I read in about an hour and a half. The plot was hard to find, and the author didn't seem comfortable switching between the three daughter's perspectives and voices. A little bit of intrigue when you realize the father tried for suicide - but that doesn't happen until page 125, and by then you are BORED. Do not waste your time on this one.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-1001

Matilda’s dad isn’t functioning well since he has returned from the war, Matilda’s mom is spending lots of time with an uncle, and what is going on next door? This little story, set in 1950’s Australia, shares a time of anxiety, both personal and societal. Beautiful writing.

3 stars. Well written but I'm not sure I enjoyed the themes. It just made me a bit sad. ...more
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I found this book in a caravan Pk book swap and it appealed to me for light reading on a journey.

But it's also a connection to historical facts in Australian History having been a high school teacher. And yes it would be a complimentary read for middle/high school students studying post-war History and Politics and of course English. They'll need assistance on mental health issues and the espionage of the day which caught the country.

If a reader doesn't unearth political facts within the text,
Anna Hepworth
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I can't decide if I want to recommend it or not. While I can appreciate it as a well crafted story, I didn't really enjoy it - I've read it in dribs and drabs over about three weeks, which if far too long for a 181 page YA story.

Things I appreciated: the careful depiction of 1950s Sydney suburbia, the interweaving of the story of the Petrov affair, the characterisations. The attention to historical details is fabulous - for example, I had forgotten how recently polio had been a serious problem.
Cathy Wang
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-ya
Slow reading. Cannot hold my interest.
Donlon McGovern
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Very different from what I thought, got it for the Petrov affair, and I totally enjoyed it. Written for a younger reader but I loved the viewpoint of a child on a historical event
Ava Carollo
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read the book The Red Shoe by Ursula Dubosarsky. I enjoyed this book because it made me think about what life was like in war times and I saw how a war effected families.

In the story, the author's attitude toward the characters shows the family's grief toward the war. But the grief is different for each character. The mother is grieving because of what happen at the Basin and she is nervous because he is mentally unstable. While the children are grieving about there fathers absents. All of the
Jul 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book started off promising. I had heard some negative reviews from friends, but as I started reading, it was alright. Needless to say, it got worse.

The ending felt like a work-in-progress that got too long and just had to be ended with a quick-fix, even if it didn't make that much sense.

I liked the difference between the three sisters, but they seemed stereotypical. Elizabeth was older and enjoyed intellectually challenging activities and cultured movies like "Roman Holiday". Frances was
Oct 22, 2014 rated it liked it
As many of you may know, the Cold War was a time of tension and hostility between the Communists and non-Communist countries (Western bloc and Eastern bloc) . The dates of when this war started are actually still unsure. While most historians traces the Cold War’s beginning to the end of World War II, others state its origin was closer to the years following World War I.

The Red Shoe by Ursula Dubosarsky takes place in Sydney, Australia, April 1954 ( during the Cold War), at a time of a famous po
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: disability, childrens
After enjoying "The Golden Day", I was curious to read more of Dubosarsky's work, and I wasn't disappointed. What makes this story for me is the voice of Matilda, the main child character. She is only six, and I think Dubosarsky does an amazing job of evoking a child's logic, her understanding of the world, and the things that are of great importance to her. A ring of spies can seem just as important as winning a pet competition, and Dubosarsky describes both with great intelligence. I really li ...more
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted on:> http://lauraslittlebookblog.blogspot....

I firstly apologise for the shortness of this review, but unfortunately this read wasn't for me.
The Red Shoe tells the story of three sisters living in Sydney in the 1950's against the backdrop of the Cold War, the threat of the H-Bomb, the unrest in China and a high profile case of the KGB defector Vladimir Petrov. Told in the viewpoint of six year old Matilda, we see these things through a child's eyes.

I do understand what the a
Alison Giles
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Gorgeous. Loved it. Really enjoy Ursula's intelligent writing with those subtle nuances of character quirks. Didn't much enjoy the newspaper snippets but they could have been an editing idea rather than the authors. I was really hoping that the story included the Petrov affair in more depth, but not so. The narrative around Matilda's parents I did enjoy. Matilda was such a likeable character. I saw myself in her so easily and this glued me to the story. But Ursula is such a delicious writer. Lov ...more
May 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
I found this book quite by chance, inexplicably with our juvenile chapter books, although to my mind the mature content makes it more of a teen novel. The action takes place in Sydney, Australia in the early 1950s, the Cold War era. Three sisters tell the tale, but the focus is on the youngest, a six-year-old (perhaps the reason the book was considered a juvenile read). Their father, who is often absent on military duty, had emotional problems as a result of his service in World War II. His brot ...more
Marina Schulz
This book, the writting style, is interesting and captivating. And yet I don't recommend it. Why? For starters, because I don't really understand who the target audience is. It is definetly too boring for children, and would only interest adults who, for no apparent reason, are nostalgic for their Cold War and polio-ridden childhoods.

NO joke - the author appears fixed on wanting to set the story in these times, disregarding anything else that might make it worth the reader's time. She appears t
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Ursula Dubosarsky is an award-winning author of numerous books for children and young adults. About The Golden Day, her first book with Candlewick Press, she says, "The little girls watch, wonder, respond, change, and grow — and then their childhood is gone, forever. This element of the story, I suppose, is at least partly autobiographical. But, as I say — all of our teachers come home safe and so ...more
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