The Dark and the Light

NorthSouth. Sept. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780735843851.
K-Gr 2–A tale of two lonely creatures. Tall, hairy, and yeti-like Shaggy lives alone in a world of darkness, while Sparkle, a round, white creature with droopy rabbit-like ears and rosy cheeks lives in a colorful world of light and brightness. They gaze across the border into one another’s worlds and wonder about the other side, but neither of them has ventured into the unknown. One day, their curiosity is piqued and they pluck up the courage to venture to the border to get a better look at the other side. “Shaggy stood at the edge of the darkness and saw silhouettes in the bright light. Sparkle stood at the edge of the light and saw two eyes in the darkness.” They happen to approach the border at the same time and meet, without speaking, for several days until finally Shaggy asks who is there in the light. Sparkle is startled and runs away in fear. When she doesn’t appear the next day, Shaggy decides to come one last time. The next day, she’s there waiting when he arrives at the border and Sparkle asks him to be her friend. Shaggy agrees and the two venture into the half light of the borderline to greet each other. Ultimately, they are able to overcome their fears of the unknown and travel back and forth (Shaggy with the aid of a parasol and Sparkle a flashlight), in the end deciding to build a new house “in the place of shining colors.” Völk’s unique and visually appealing illustrations use solar paper to achieve the vivid hues of blue in Shaggy’s world, but don’t really help to clarify the already confounding plot. Readers may have a hard time relating to or caring about the abrupt friendship of the two characters. Translated from German, the flow of the text is robotic at times and flat.
VERDICT While beautifully illustrated, this sweet story is likely to have limited appeal with a narrow audience.

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