Making Sneakers (book cover)

Making Sneakers

Hardcover: Out of Print

Bruce's Fifth Book
1980 - Houghton Mifflin
ISBN 0-395-29161-5
Personal Note

"With two photographs on each page,
plus a few lines of print,
the text follows the steps
in the manufacturing of sneakers..."

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June 1980

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Personal Note

I photographed Making Sneakers in Lumberton, North Carolina in 1979. Ironically, in 1992 Henry Horenstein went to the very same factory to photograph his children's book, How are Sneakers Made? In 2001 the plant was closed when Converse declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Until then they had made approximately 8 million pairs of shoes annually at their Lumberton, N.C. plant.

This book was published early in my career before I designed my books. I was dismayed to see the published book. Unknown to me, the designer had redesigned the book. Nearly every review remarked on the bad design. I often use it in my university class as an example of how not to design a book.

When Joanne Vermette retired as the children's librarian after twenty-five years at my local library, the Springvale Public Library, I was asked to say a few words at the celebration. Included in my remarks was that Joanne had been a true friend. Years after Making Sneakers had been published she told me, as only a friend can, "Bruce that book is your worst book. It's not like any of your others." And she was right.

For a much better sneaker deal go here:
Make Your Own Sneakers

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What are sneakers made of and how are they put together? In this photographic essay, Bruce McMillan explores with text and photos the steps involved in manufacturing this popular footgear, from forming the rubber sole to adding the finishing touch, the shoelaces. We see how the rubber is mixed and molded, how the sides are cut and sewn together, how the soles are glued on, and watch in fascination as the sneaker slowly takes shape.

This is a book designed to bring home the technological basis of our man-made environment by explaining just how much is involved in producing something as familiar and dear as a pair of sneakers.

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School Library Journal
September 1980

"The creation of a pair of joggers...
is chronicled."

McMillan, Bruce.
Making Sneakers.
Photogs. by author. 32p. CIP.
Houghton. Mar. 1980.
PLB $6.95.
ISBN 0-395-29161-5. LC 79-26069.

Gr. 2-4 The creation of a pair of joggers from rubber sheets and fabric rolls to the boxed end product is chronicled with 54 three-by-four-and-a-half inch black-and-white captioned photographs. Difficult vocabulary, the absence of a glossary to define such words as "bevel" and awkward sentence structure: "With a die (a metal pattern that is sharp as a knife), the cutter trims the sole using a machine that pushes the die down," make this book impossible reading for the intended audience. The visually unattractive and monotonous format is bottom heavy; only cropped, impersonal close-ups are used in the lower half of each page with a scanty descriptive paragraph in the top half. Gottlieb's Factory Made (Houghton, 1978) and the Who Puts the… series (Random) are much to be preferred for older readers. - Marilyn Payne

This copyrighted © review originally appeared in School Library Journal and appears here with permission.

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