New shoes for Tilly are always a problem and today is no exception: Tilly likes none of the shoes her Mom and the shop lady show her – and there are lots. And lots.

“Too red.” Tilly frowns.

“Too blue.” Tilly shakes her head again.

“All little girls like pink shoes,” growls the shop lady and puts some pink shoes with blue bows in front of Tilly. “Difficult child,” she hisses.

“Different, Tilly just likes to be different,” suggests Tilly’s Mom, trying to help.

Tilly's Rainbow Shoes Kids Story illustration 1 “Well, actually, I have got something very different.” The shop lady smiles a crooked smile. “Last year’s Rainbow Shoes were a big flop, because most little girls prefer pink or blue …”

Tilly likes the word ‘different’ and ‘big flop’ doesn’t bother her at all; in fact flop sounded nice – like Floppy, her rabbit. Flop sounds like plop and Tilly makes a plopping noise.

And Tilly loves the Rainbow Shoes that the shop lady brings up from the flop plop cellar for her to try. Tilly’s Mom flops into a chair.

“If they fit, we’ll take them!” Tilly’s Mom starts to get her money ready.

And that’s how Tilly found her amazingly amazing Rainbow Shoes!

Tilly's Rainbow Shoes Kids Story illustration 2

What is so special about Rainbow Shoes anyway?

First thing is, people notice you. They say things like ‘Cool shoes’ or ‘Never seen shoes like those’ or ‘Where did you find those crazy shoes?’

But were Tilly’s shoes so special? Tilly certainly thought so.

When she wore her Rainbow Shoes, Tilly always chose her brightest clothes to wear, too: red and blue T-shirt, yellow shorts and an orange hair band today! Tilly always chose the most colourful ice cream to match the shoes: strawberry, banana and chocolate with sprinkles today!

Tilly skipped along zippier −

Tilly jumped higher –

Tilly ran faster –

Tilly painted her pictures with happy colours − mostly rainbow colours.

Tilly sang snappier – and louder.

Before long, all Tilly’s friends wanted Rainbow Shoes, too. All Tilly’s friends and friends of Tilly’s friends. The shop lady put up a sign in her window – Amazing Rainbow Shoes! She also put up the price, quite a lot!

But now this was a big problem for Tilly – the Rainbow Shoes just weren’t different anymore! All her friends had Rainbow Shoes now –so how different is that?

“What’s the point in having shoes that are different, when all my friends have got the same ones?” Tilly stared down at her shoes – and peeped over at Daisy wearing the same ones.

“But you have started a fashion,” her mother told her. “You got the idea, and all your friends copied you; that’s nice.”

Tilly wasn’t so sure.

Could they all jump higher and skip faster? Tilly put the Rainbow Shoes’ magic to the test.

“Skipping competition,” Tilly shouted out at playtime.

“Only girls with Rainbow Shoes are allowed,” announced Tilly, lining up the skipping girls.

“Not fair,” said Lola, who had blue shoes.

“Absolutely not fair,” added Gina, who had red shoes.

So, everybody joined in the ‘Who Can Skip Fastest?’ competition, and Lola with the blue shoes won. Tilly came second, but all the girls agreed, “Clever idea, Tilly, that was such fun. “

After school, Tilly decided on a ‘Who Can Trampoline Highest?’ competition in her garden. They had to take their shoes off, so maybe it didn’t count. Gina, not wearing her red shoes, won. And everybody agreed, “Bouncy idea, Tilly, good fun!”

Tillys Rainbow Shoes short story for kids illustration trampoline

And Tilly was no longer so sure about the magic in her magical Rainbow Shoes, but she still liked them, even though they weren’t so very different any more.

But one day, sometime later, the Rainbow Shoes started to pinch and nip and squeeze.

“Ouch,” yelled Tilly. “My shoes hurt and squeeze!”

“Ah,” laughed Mom. “You have been growing fast, it must be all that skipping and trampolining. New shoes!”

The shoe shop lady didn’t smile; she recognised difficult, different Tilly. But then she remembered that she had sold ten pairs of the flop Rainbow Shoes to Tilly’s friends and suddenly her smile nearly split her face.

“I’ve got some new denim shoes with lovely pink coloured straps, the very latest …”

Tilly had to agree that those shoes looked very smart. But she thought for a minute and asked, “Have you got some shoes in your cellar where there is only one pair left?”

The Shoe Lady looked puzzled. “I’ve got just one pair of red sneakers with white laces in your size, a bit ordinary and from last year.”

“Oh,” smiled Tilly. “I think I like ordinary now, and red sounds just my colour!”

And to make her ordinary sneakers a bit more special, she stuck blue and yellow stars on them, until all her friends started sticking stars on their sneakers, too!

Tilly's Rainbow Shoes Kids Story - illustration 3

And the big surprise is − Tilly can now skip even faster and trampoline even higher. It must be those stars on her red sneakers!

Short story for kids written and illustrated by Andrea Kaczmarek

Let’s Chat About The Stories ~ Ideas for Talking With Kids

Independent Thinking

1. Tilly chose the rainbow shoes because she loved them, even if the other kids didn’t. By the next year, when all the other kids chose rainbow shoes, she picked sneakers! Why did Tilly do this?

2. Do you think this was the best way to pick her shoes? Why or why not?


1. What would be your perfect pair of shoes?