With Cristina Gradina, author Julie Griffin and illustrator Don Sidle have created a spunky and contemporary young heroine. With her ever-changing T-shirts and vibrant, multi-colored shorts, Cristina is a vision of fashionable and good-hearted silliness. This happy picture book will keep young readers laughing.
Cristina Gradina is an effervescent girl with big dark eyes and a glorious head of rambunctious red curls. She sings and laughs, is helpful at home and excels at school. Everything is pretty peachy until one not-so-ordinary day at school: when the bell rings, Cristina Gradina’s toes set themselves free from her shoes. Before we can say, “One, two, buckle my shoe,” Cristina’s toes are out of control and creating havoc!
“They passed along papers/ They handed out pencils/ They organized shelves/ and straightened the stencils.” They “counted and drew/and they colored and painted/ till they caused such a fuss/ some students fainted!” Luckily, Cristina’s teacher knows a thing or two about toes and how to order them around. Pretty soon all ten are marching in perfect lockstep back into Cristina’s shoes, exhausted by their adventure and ready for an afternoon nap.
This is a madcap, slapstick adventure designed to entertain youngsters. Sidle’s illustrations are vibrant and filled with a joyful stream of amusing detail kids will have fun spotting and commenting on — from Cristina’s gloriously striped socks, to her remarkable shoe collection. Although the book oddly eschews commas and periods that would have helped reading ease and Griffin sometimes stretches for a rhyme (“all ten/get time in” for instance), the book’s design is crisp and clean and Griffin’s text is filled with warm good humor and heart.