As per the post here, this is likely Else Holmelund Minarek, "Little Bear's Visit", which featured illustrations from Maurice Sendak. More specifically the chapter "Goblin Story".
I am looking for a children's storybook about a little elf or goblin who is walking through the woods and gets scared (I think he hears a "bump in the woods"), and jumps out of his shoes and begins to run home. As he is running home he hears footsteps running behind him, thinking that he is being chased. It becomes clear in the end that the footsteps running behind him are nothing more than his shoes that were running home after him -- moral of the story that he had nothing to be afraid of but his own shoes! The story had a picture of the elf jumping out of his shoes, and also of the shoes running home behind him. I think there may also be a picture of a large tree with a hollow in it (where the elf hears the "bump in the woods") or possibly a cave. The illustrations in the Little Bear series of books remind me of the pictures that I remember from this book. I thought perhaps the story was a story within a story from the Little Bear series(perhaps Little Bear's father telling him a story), but I can't seem to find any Little Bear stories like that. This was one of my favorite story books when I was a child in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Thank you so much for any help!
I read the book when I was little in the mid to late 70s. There was a character walking in the woods that thought he was being followed because when he walked he heard "pitter pat, pitter pat." (That's the only thing I remember clearly from the book.) But it wasn't a person. Maybe magic shoes??
Else Holmelund Minarik, Little Bear's Visit, 1961. It sounds a lot like the chapter from Little Bear's Visit called "Goblin Story" Grandfather tells Little Bear the story of a goblin who is startled by a big bump and goes running through the woods. All he hears is pit-pat-pit-pat chasing him. It turns out he was so scared he jumped right out of his shoes, and they had been trying to catch up to him.
SOLVED: Else Holmelund Minarek, Little Bear's Visit, 1961. This was my daughter's original question, but I was able to find a tape recording where my daughter was "reading" the book, and I learned that it was a goblin that was being chased by his shoes. With that key word (goblin) we were able to find the book. We originally couldn't remember if it was an elf being chased or what it was that was running from its shoes.
Found by searching for sendak story gnome chased by his shoes