Thursday, November 4, 2010


By Suzy Lee
$15.99, all ages, 44 pages.

A shadow puppet with sharp, jagged teeth comes to life and chases a little girl across the fold of this magical wordless book.

But will the girl and her make-believe playmates be clever enough to scare him away?

As with Lee's breathtaking wordless book Wave, in which a girl teases a wave to try to splash her, Shadow tells the story of a girl lost in play.

But instead of playing with a wave, the girl dances around an attic with shadows that look like happy jungle friends, with one scary exception.

While playing in the attic, she also imagines a shadow of a big, bad wolf and if she's not careful, he might just gobble her up.

As the story begins, the girl has slipped up to the attic alone before dinner.  With the pull of a light string, she turns on an overhead bulb that casts everything in the room into shadow.

On the left side you see the girl standing beside a ladder holding boots and a hose, piled-up boxes, a vacuum with a long suction hose, and a bicycle hung upside down from hooks.

Across the gutter on the right, you see all of their shadows, and for now, the shapes only suggest what they've been cast from. But as the story evolves, the shadows will shift into things the girl imagines she sees.

At first, the girl is enamored with her own shadow and with making it move. She sails around the attic with her arms angled like plane wings and watches her shadow fly with her.

Then, on the next spread, she begins manipulating her shadow. Freeing her hands from an apple she's been munching on, she hooks them together like bird wings.

As she flaps her hands, curiosity gives way to exhilaration, and in one joyous sweep of her arms she sets her shadow puppet free.

Across the fold, the shadow of a dovelike bird takes flight in a cloud of speckled yellow light, unleashing the girl's imagination with it.

By the next spread, the girl's mind is racing with ideas.  Grabbing one of the old work shoes from the ladder, she jumps up into the air with both legs bent at the knee.

As she holds the shoe high above her head, the sole of the shoe flaps open like a wolf's growling jaw. Over the fold, her shadow no longer resembles a girl in a dress. It's a pouncing wolf, set against a spray of yellow light.

Around the wolf's shadow, other shadows are changing shape. The ladder's shadow now resembles a palm with lazy fronds, and the hose looped on one of its steps silhouettes a coiling snake.

Across the room, a mop and broom in a bucket cast the shadow of a giant tropical flower, and the wheels of the bike overhead become a sun and crescent moon.

The girl is so swept away in her reverie that she seems unaware that the wolf shadow is still lurking about.

On the next spread, you see her balancing on one foot like a ballerina. The vacuum hose is in one hand and she's formed a shadow puppet of a bunny head with the other. Everything else in the attic has faded to white.

Across the gutter in the shadow world, the scene is fantastic.

Droplets of yellow light are spread across the page like paint flicked from a brush and together, illuminate the girl's shadow, which is no longer the shape of the girl, but of a ballerina balancing on toe.

In one hand, the ballerina holds an elephants trunk (the hose) and in another, you see the front paws of a bunny as it leaps to her (the hand puppet).

At the ballerina's foot, growing out of the shadow of a saw and hammer, is the shadow of a happy little crocodile.

The scene seems joyous and carefree until you notice a shadow skulking off to the side with yellow, slivered eyes.

In the next scene, the girl is now completely alone (everything in the attic has faded to white).

Her eyes are closed and smiling, and her right leg is folded below the dimple of her left knee in passe, as she blissfully drifts about the room.

At the bottom of the page, the wolf shadow begins to cross over from the shadow world to the attic, as the shadow bird sweeps over the girl's head to warn her.

With a turn of the page, the girl falls back in fright as the wolf rises on his hind legs to pounce and the bird wildly flaps its wings.

Across the fold in the shadow world, yellow light saturates the page. The ballerina and animal shadows leap into the air in terror and tumble over each other.

Quickly, the shadow friends connect hands and paws, and pull the girl into the shadow world as the wolf reaches out to snatch her.

With the wolf shadow fast on their trail, the girl and her friends will have to use all of their imaginations to scare him away.

But do they really want to make another shadow cry?

Exhilarating to look through, Shadow sweeps you into a child's joy and makes you feel  that you too have let loose and twirled about with shadows.

If you haven't had the delight of reading Lee's 2008 gem Wave, watch the trailer below!


  1. Oh, that is one of the most delightful little videos I've seen - I'd like to know more about the producer/illustrator. Thanks, Jenny! (and Go, Fireside!)

  2. When does Barack find the time to write a children's book? But what a cute idea!

    Oh, and GO FIRESIDE!

  3. A book about shadows is great. I don't think the children now a days play with shadow puppets as much as we did.

    I vote for Westgate!

  4. Great adventure! Vote for FIRESIDE Elementary!

  5. Looks like a wonderful book! Go Fireside Elementary!

    Fairview Elementary ROCKS & so does Miss Sarah Beth! :)

  7. Cool!
    Vote for Fireside!
    (I posted earlier but did not say school name)

  8. We need books for Fireside.
    Vote for Fireside.