Weird and wonderful, mysterious and magical—shadows bring a bit of whimsy to the everyday world. This month, we’ve rounded up a trio of inventive titles inspired by these slippery, shifting showpieces of nature. Get ready for some shadow play!
In Michelle Cuevas’ wonderfully imaginative Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow (ages 4 to 8), Smoot is tired of the life he leads with the boy he’s attached to: “Every day they brushed the same teeth, frowned the same frown, and drew the same pictures.” When Smoot comes “unstuck” from the boy, he savors his freedom, joining kids on the playground and climbing a tree, and he soon attracts the attention of other shadows, who are inspired to follow his lead. The dragonfly’s shadow turns into a giant winged beast, while the frog’s shadow becomes a prince. Smoot quickly realizes he must find a way to stop what he started before shadows everywhere break free. Artist Sydney Smith depicts the impish Smoot and his fellow shadows against a white backdrop that’s offset by a bustling world of color and activity. This delightful story puts a fresh, phenomenal spin on a familiar, Peter Pan-like premise.
IN GOOD COMPANY
Mixing intelligence and wit with just a smidgen of silliness, Davide Cali’s George and His Shadow (ages 4 to 8) is a story of unforeseen friendship. Smartly attired in a green plaid hat and spectacles, George kicks off his day with coffee in the kitchen, where a dark figure awaits him at the dining table—his shadow! “Shouldn’t you be on the floor?” George asks. “I was hungry,” the shadow replies. Sticking close to George for the rest of the day, the shadow accompanies him as he walks his dog and visits the fishing pier. Tired of being tailed, George tries various methods (scissors, vacuum cleaner, even garlic) but can’t get rid of his counterpart. As darkness falls and the shadow vanishes, George realizes that he may have lost a friend. Serge Bloch’s spare, ingenious illustrations bring extra appeal to this singular story.
TWO OF A KIND
Hortense and the Shadow (ages 4 to 8), from sisters Natalia and Lauren O’Hara, is a beautifully executed story that has the staying power of a classic. Hortense is tired of her shadow. As her constant—unwanted—companion, it copies her every move. She tries hiding it “behind columns . . . under sofas . . . and in holes,” but nothing works until the day she runs inside and slams the window shut. At last, she’s free of her bothersome twin! When Hortense finds herself alone in the forest, faced with danger, she learns that her shadow is more valuable than she ever imagined. Lauren O’Hara’s delicate yet expressive illustrations, created in an understated palette of grays and pinks, will enchant readers of all ages. Radiating the timelessness of an old-fashioned fairy tale, this is a story to be treasured.