Sneakers: The Cool Stories and Facts Behind Every Pair

Union Square Kids. (How It Happened!). Apr. 2023. 192p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781454944966.
Gr 3-6–This colorful, informative nonfiction book leads readers through the fascinating history of sneakers, from the oldest known shoe (a 9,000-year-old sandal woven from sagebrush) to the popular shoes of today. The book is divided into three sections: “How It All Started;” “How It Got Off the Ground;” and “How It Took Over the World.” The first section describes Charles Goodyear’s decades-long quest to develop vulcanized rubber, only to have his invention stolen, leaving him in debt at the end of his life. It also talks about the rise of Keds (originally called Peds), which became popular with women tennis players in the 1920s. The second section covers the 1936 Olympics, when American athlete Jesse Owen broke world records while wearing special sneakers designed by the Dassler Brothers Sports Shoe Company. The Dassler brothers, Adi and Rudolf, eventually had a falling out that led them to the formation of two rival companies (Adidas and Puma), which led to a feud so bitter that employees of one company were forbidden from dating or marrying employees of the other. The section also covers the birth of Nike (which was almost called Dimension Six), and Onitsuka. The last section describes the rise of sneaker culture, including Van’s, Converse, and Reeboks, and the major celebrity endorsements (Jane Fonda, Michael Jordan, and RUN-DMC) that transformed sneakers from an accessory reserved for athletes, to the everyday shoes they are today. The book ends by describing modern innovations, (including shoes that lace themselves, track the wearer’s performance, or have designs that can be instantly changed with the touch of a button), and asks readers to come up with their own logos and designs. Colorful photographs and drawings appear throughout, along with interesting bits of trivia and quotes, and the brightly colored pages add to its readability and eye-catching design. A table of contents, time line of important events, glossary, and index are included.
VERDICT This engaging, educational book will appeal to middle grade sneakerheads and fans of books about the history of inventions.

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