Of Magic Shoes and Hats in Danalis’ “Schumann the Shoeman” and Wimmer’s “The Magic Hat Shop”

15025143_1323928714319268_7775025028769073409_o

As we celebrate all things fantastical, supernatural, magical, here are two picturebooks that capture that spirit of make-believe, while providing a timeless message of hope, endurance, and being true to one’s self – everything else is just white noise, really.

fullsizerender-2Schumann the Shoeman

WriterJohn Danalis Illustrated by: Stella Danalis
Published by: University of Queensland Press, 2009. ISBN: 0702236217 (ISBN13: 9780702236211)
Bought copy of the book.

I read this a year ago and enjoyed it tremendously. When I read Wimmer’s book below just a few days back, my mind brought me back to Schumann – I thought they would make a good pairing. Shoes and hats – they do match.

fullsizerender-8

Schumann used to be a famous shoemaker, his shoes being veritable works of art; that is, until the new shoe factory with the cheap, sensible, salmon style footwear came along driving him out of business.

fullsizerender-6

There simply is no place for a bright, free spirit like Schumann in his increasingly grey, drab, and uniform community. And so he moved far away, into a ‘forgotten forest’ where the animals in the wilderness knock on his door, asking him to make shoes for them.

fullsizerender-5

His first customer was this blue bunny who wanted footwear for her tired feet. Then other creatures – from a warthog to flamingoes to lions came right after. Somehow, Schumann manages to capture the essence of each one and comes up with just the right design, style, mixed-up colours – that represents the animal-customer fully, like no other.

fullsizerender-7

I found this to be quite a sad story, really. The ending, while ultimately hopeful, still shows that apart from these creatures in the wild, no one really understood or appreciated Schumann’s ingenuity and unparalleled talent.

fullsizerender-4

Glorious endpapers.

Yet it is also a reminder that maybe that’s not really the point of living; and that regardless of how one tries to conceal one’s gift, it will come out quite naturally, whether the world is ready for it or not.

The Magic Hat Shopimg_7751

Writer: Sonja Wimmer
Published by: Cuento de Luz, 2016. ISBN: 8416147191 (ISBN13: 9788416147199)
Bought copy of the book.

Unlike Schumann who was gradually driven out of business by his neighbours who preferred the staid, boring, safe salmon shoes – this magic hat shop just appeared from out of nowhere “right in the middle of the town square.”

img_7752

Somehow, each person who comes into the store, leaves with more than just a hat. There is a spring in their walk, a more confident lilt to their voice, a smile in their cheeks that have not been there before.

img_7753

Clearly, the ‘magic hat shop’ brought laughter and light to the town. However, a freak windstorm blew all the hats away, along with the shop and the curiously silent hat maker.

img_7756

This is where I get conflicted about the story. There is no question that I adore Wimmer’s art. I don’t think there is anyone quite like her who effectively imbues a muted magic that bleeds into the edges of one’s consciousness, finding its home there. However, I find the words to occasionally be heavy-handed and explicit, with a very clear, feel-good ending.

img_7757

But then again, during these difficult times, don’t we all need some feel-good ending? I know I do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: