The Wrong Shoes

Tom Percival

The Wrong Shoes
Simon & Schuster Ltd
United Kingdom
5 June 2024

The Wrong Shoes

Tom Percival

A beautiful and sensitive exploration of the experience of child poverty from leading author/illustrator, Tom Percival, for fans of Boy at the Back of the Class and Julia and the Shark

Will has the wrong shoes – he's always known it but doesn't know how to change it. Navigating the difficulties of home and school when you feel you stick out is tough, but finding confidence with the help and empathy of friends can be all you need to see the way.


Will has the wrong shoes: they’re not Nike, Reebok, or even proper school shoes. They’re plastic leather, with a split that means rain will always equal a wet foot. But they’re all his dad, who was injured and has been out of work for a couple of years, can afford. Will is very aware of how rubbish his life seems, and he’s not under any illusion that things will get better. Well, maybe they will, but they probably won’t get that much better. Still, it’s fun to dream, and when he’s hanging out with his best friend Cameron and they’re talking about the game company they’re going to run when they’ve finished school, Will finds it easy to push aside most of the thoughts that tell him it won’t happen.

The Wrong Shoes is told over a week or so of Will’s life, a week when too many things go wrong, all at once. But even then, Will can’t help but notice there are still spots of light, causing cracks in the darkness. This book is a perfect window into the kind of life many kids may be fortunate not to experience and Tom Percival perfectly balances the brutal reality of children in poverty with sensitivity and respect for both his subjects and his young readers. A great book for all kids aged 9+.

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