Some stories tell such a deep meaningful tale that you’re left with just as many questions as answers, and that’s the best kind of story. One such tale is picture book Shadow, written by Lucy Christopher, illustrated by Anastasia Suvorova and published by Lantana Publishing.
This truly unique and beautiful story focuses on daughter and mother. They are living in a new and unfamiliar home and clearly from the beginning it doesn’t feel like home to them. There’s a distance between which seems to add to the young girl’s anxiety and she soon finds friendship and solace in a shadow. Ma is distant and can’t see her daughter and it quickly becomes clear through the subtleties in the illustration and words that both are struggling. When the young girl runs away with her shadow, and finds herself lost in the woods, her very own Ma comes to the stark realisation of what is important and they reignite their bond.
Written from the girl’s point of view it really expresses her feelings in a powerful way, and the isolation she feels comes out of this book in waves of simple clean prose. It is perfectly executed by Lucy making the book a pleasure to read. It is poignant, moving but ends with an explosion of joy.
It’s impossible not to recognise here the stunning emotive quality of the illustrations created by Anastasia. They struck me as having a real graphic novel quality to them which I really loved, a grown up picture book I suppose. The colours very much reflect the mood throughout, starting with a starkness to them, dark with splashes of red, and by the end the transformation is quite apparent when lightness and love is brought back into their relationship. I love how the shadow, starts out as a friend almost for the girl, but steadily through the story evolves into a large overwhelming and controlling beast! Very clever and a subtle hint to what’s happening in the story. It is beautiful throughout, impeccable, illustrative storytelling.
So why all the questions? Well this picture book has been quite careful created to tell a story that’s open to interpretation. Why have the girl and the Mum moved to this house? Why did they only have two bags? Why are they detached and sad? Where is their family? All these questions and more came into my head while reading and I could think of so many directions to take this with children. Looking at migration and how people feel when in an alien place, depression and how that affects people, bereavement perhaps? Shadow is the ultimate open door into empathy, and exploring someone else’s life and situation, something that we know is SO important to pass onto children.
Shadow is a book packed with feeling, with sadness but also brightness and hope. As Lantana and team are famous for, this is another unique and special picture book.
Shadow is now available from all good bookshops and libraries in UK, US, Canada and Australia.
It can also be purchased directly from Lantana publishing via https://lantanapublishing.com/products/shadow and for every book purchased from the website, Lantana will donate a book to children’s hospitals in the UK. How wonderful is that?
Thank you to Lantana for sending a copy of Shadow for review, and thank you for reading this Book Monsters review.