By: Jacqueline Jules
Illustrated by: Miguel Benitez
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication Date: March 2010
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: March 9, 2010
Zapato Power is the very sweet story of young Freddie Ramos and the amazing purple sneakers that give him superpowers. It’s fun, silly, and has a subtle message – that using your mind to help people works better than having superpowers.
Freddie lives with his mom in an apartment at the Starwood Park Apartments. One day, Freddie arrives home from school and discovers a box with his name on it. Who is it from? And more importantly, what’s inside the box?
With the help of Mr. Vaslov, the maintenance man at the apartment complex, Freddie gets the box open and finds a pair of purple sneakers. Along with the sneakers is an unsigned note with just five words: “Zapato Power for Freddie Ramos.” Mr. Vaslov reminds Freddie (and the reader) that the word “zapato” means “shoe.” Shoe power? What’s that about? And will Freddie ever find out who sent him the sneakers?
Freddie soon learns that his new purple sneakers have amazing powers. They allow young Freddie to run really, really fast, so fast, in fact, that he outruns the nearby train. Freddie wonders about all the potential situations where these sneakers could turn him into a superhero and help his friends at school if they are even in trouble.
Zapato Power is both a mystery and a superhero adventure. While no incredibly dangerous feats are attempted by Freddie, racing to a friend’s house from school to get a forgotten lunch is about as treacherous as it gets, it’s certainly fun for kids to imagine being able to run so fast.
There were two things about this story that really resonated with me – Freddie is so happy and positive in every situation. I imagined the young boy with a permanent smile on his face. The other was that while he was determined to be a superhero, Freddie soon learns that helping people by using his clever mind to think out solutions is much more effective.
Quill says: An upbeat story about a boy and a mystery surrounding purple sneakers.
To read the interview with author Jacqueline Jules, please click here.