Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Author Trinka Hakes Noble shares for Anti-bullying Month + Giveaway

Dear friends,

October is National anti-bullying month and in her poignant post, my lovely friend, Author Trinka Hakes Noble shares about her real life story of being bullied in school and her Award Winning picture book, The Orange Shoes. Trinka is generously giving away a copy of the book to one lucky winner who leaves a comment. Maybe you have a story to share, too. We want to hear from you!

The Power of the Pen - Writing From Real Life 
by Trinka Hakes Noble

When a writer’s own childhood is woven into a story, there is a from-the-heart sharing that connects with something deep inside all of us. There is a sincerity, a vulnerability, an earnest innocence and the endearing, wide-eyed outlook of a child that is honored and treasured. Such a story is The Orange Shoes.

It is often said that authors will go back to their own childhood to right a wrong or to fix something that happened or didn’t happen or should have happened. What happened to Delly, the main character in The Orange Shoes, happened to me in real life when I was eight years old. It was a day I will never forget.

I grew up in a big family of seven kids, so getting a new pair of fancy shoes usually wasn’t an option. You either wore hand-me-downs, or got a very sturdy pair of brown tie shoes called Buster Browns. Those Buster Browns would last a kid through rain, sleet, mud and snow, but they weren’t very pretty. In fact, they were ugly, but that is what I wore. If you look in the corner of the illustration of Delly hugging her Dad, you can see them, patched with pieces of black inner tube. Back then, shoes were patched to last until the end of school, and then you went barefoot for the summer, which I did.  

But one Saturday, when we went to town for out piano lessons, I saw a beautiful pair of orange Mary Janes in a shoe store window. Oh, how I wanted those beautiful orange shoes! But they probably cost too much money.

Lo and behold, the next morning, those orange shoes were setting right by my bed! I couldn’t believe it! On Monday morning, without asking my mom, I took those orange shoes to school and hid them under a bush on the edge of the playground. Then, at recess, I ran to that bush, took off my old Buster Browns and put on those bright orange shoes. I wanted to show them to the other girls who were playing by the swings. I thought my shoes would make them as happy as they made me, but I was wrong. Those girls didn’t even smile. Instead, those girls stomped on my shoes, kicked dirt on my shoes, and scraped and scuffed my shoes until they were ruined!  

Now, here’s the thing. I didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t talk back, or fight back. I tried to run away, but they chased me all over the playground. I didn’t even tell my teacher, and I had a really nice teacher, just like Miss Violet in the book. This really bothered me my whole life, so when I became an author, I decided to write a book about that day, but I would let the girl in the book do what I wished I had done, but didn’t.   

What Delly did was use her artistic talent to turn that wrong into the most glorious right. She painted pretty flowers, vines and leaves right over all those gouges, cracks, scuff marks and scrapes, and she created the most beautiful pair of orange shoe the world has ever seen! In the end, Delly triumphed by wearing those beautiful painted shoes to her school’s Harvest Festival Family Night. Delly and her orange shoes were the hit of the evening.

In The Orange Shoes, I meshed two writing genres, personal narrative and realistic fiction. I revisited my childhood to creative a story that righted a wrong, and changed what happened into what should have happened.  

Trinka Hakes Noble with Artwork by Elementary students - School Visit
As one 3rd grader put it at a recent author’s visit, “Boy, you sure got even with those mean girls, didn’t you!”

Yes indeed, I did!  And it’s called The Power of the Pen.

The Orange Shoes is now in its 8th printing and is used in many schools across the nation to teach character building and to enhance the National Anti-Bullying Month of October.  

The Orange Shoes won the International Reading Association’s prestigious Teacher’s Choice Award (2008) and received a Bronze Award from the National Parenting Publication (NAPPA).  It also received Best Books of the Year 2008 from The Children’s Book Council.  

The Orange Shoes was nominated for the following:

The New York State Reading Association’s Charlotte Award
Delaware Diamond State Award
Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award
Indiana Hoosier State Book Award
Missouri Show Me Readers Award
Nebraska Golden Sower Award
Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award
The prestigious Jefferson Cup Award 2008

Trinka’s most recent title is Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade - A Thanksgiving Story.  Forthcoming in the fall of 2019 is her newest book, A Fist for Joe Louis and Me, both published by Sleeping Bear Press.

Learn more about Trinka on her website at www.trinkahakesnoble.com  

THANK YOU, TRINKA, for stopping by today to share your wonderful book and story with us! AND THANK YOU, DEAR FRIENDS, for taking time from your busy lives to leave a comment. Please spread the word on FB and Twitter for more chances to win Trinka’s beautiful book, THE ORANGE SHOES. I’ll be back next week to announce the winner.



  1. How great to be able to right a wrong through your art, Trinka. I wish I knew how to change the hearts of bullies.

    1. Oh, so true, Kathy. I’m wishing the same thing as you. Thanks for you support and kind thoughts today.

      Your name is entered for a chance to win Trinka’s beautiful book.

  2. This sounds like such a powerful and touching book! I look forward to reading it.

    1. I’m so pleased you stopped by, Becky! Thank you.

      Your name is entered for a chance to win the autographed copy of THE ORANGE SHOES.

  3. I love how your took a bad memory and turned it around. The power of positive thinking is a wonderful trait.
    Thank you, Elaine

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Elaine. If you’d like a chance to win the book, send me an email here: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. Judie Anderson OfferdahlOctober 2, 2018 at 8:02 PM

    Wow! I have never heard of this book, but it sounds wonderful. I can't wait to use it in the classroom. I just got it off Amazon. We read the book Those Shoes to help teach Empathy. Maybe this would be a great book to do a compare and contrast lesson.

    1. You’re so wonderful, Judie! Thank you for being so supportive--always introducing good books to your students.

      Your name is entered for a chance to win the autographed copy of The Orange Shoes.

  5. I love hearing the about what inspired the book. Books are a powerful tool for helping kids.

    1. I agree, Carol, that books are a powerful tool for helping kids. Thank you for stopping by to leave a comment for Trinka.

      Your name is entered for a chance to win, THE ORANGE SHOES.

  6. Wow! This a great story! I think it's true, too, that writers write best when there is something powerful underlying their writing. This book sounds like a fine example of that. Congrats on making it to the 8th printing; to do that it must strike a strong chord with both kids and adults.

  7. It is a great story, Jilanne! It ’s a very special book.

    Thanks for leaving Trinka such a thoughtful comment. Your name is entered for a chance to win, THE ORANGE SHOES.