Why Are You Barefoot?, by Dr. Jeff Brodsky, illustrated by Ellie Sullivan
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Adams PR Group. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This was another one of those books that I didn’t request but that the person who sent it wisely figured I would appreciate. It’s a children’s book written by someone who is also one of the main characters in the book itself in one of those metafictional ways (more on that anon). I remember as a child I used to read a series of books that dealt with an odd school, and in one of the books the children tried to help a bum who refused to wear shoes, and that was the only thing holding him back from a better life. In this particular case the not wearing of shoes is a deliberate attempt to bring attention to the problem of child trafficking, a problem that is part of the general child abuse and slavery beats of this blog . Of course, when you are a doctor and are supported by a charitable organization that allows one not to wear shoes, it is a lot easier to make that kind of statement.
This book is a somewhat straightforward one in approach, but the author is savvy in the positioning and framing of the book, which shows considerable cleverness. The book does not show child trafficking taking place, but rather begins in a school where a teacher is introducing her fifth-grade students to the man who will be speaking to them, who has not worn shoes at this point for nearly a decade (and a man who happens to be the author). After the barefoot man, who looks a bit plain, I must admit, is introduced, he talks with the children about the extent to which the parents who sell their children into slavery are bad parents, demonstrating the constraints they are under and, more to the point, the lies that they are told by the labor contractors who buy the children. After this, of course, the children go barefoot as well in protest of the scourge of child trafficking, and then the girl whose point of view this story is told from, an appealing and cute ginger named Emma, starts a lemonade stand to help raise money for Joy International, the author’s not-for-profit that works against child trafficking.
There are a few notable aspects of this book that are worth focusing on a bit. For one, the author is quite savvy in positioning the book to be about the perspective of an appealing child rather than the author himself. This is a book that is meant to provoke action against child trafficking, and in order to do that, the author is wise to tell the book from the point of view of someone who is idealistic and a good stand-in for the intended reading audience of idealistic young people who can be moved to go barefoot for a time or do fundraisers to raise money for children not too unlike themselves who are coerced into child prostitution and other horrors. Another aspect of this book that is particularly worthwhile is the way that the author makes a direct appeal to parents as well, figuring accurately that a book like this is going to draw the interest and appeal to the support of parents as well. And if the adult readers are not quite the first intended audience of the book, they are expected to be idealistic themselves and encourage the idealistic and moralistic tendencies of their offspring to whom this book is aimed at. Consider the target reached.
 See, for example: