Lantana. Oct. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781911373834.
K-Gr 2–In this sympathetic tale, an unnamed girl describes her time spent with a shadow living in the old house she now calls home. Their first meeting occurs under her bed, when “he didn’t go away.” In this isolating environment, the little redhead naturally becomes close to the amorphous shadow while playing games like hide-and-seek and dancing in the attic. But then, one day, they wander into the woods, where the girl is left alone in a pitch black place. Her mother, who up to this point has been distant, rushes to the rescue, and from then on, the two become closer, and gain new friends. While it has its brighter moments, this picture book has more than one type of darkness to contemplate. First is an underlying apprehension. The shadow may have eased the girl’s loneliness, but it is ultimately a hollow relationship that draws her away from meaningful ones. There is also an unspecified “blackness” that looms over the girl’s mother. Through the tone, framing, prevalence of contrasting shades, and the actions of the characters, readers get an impression of their circumstances: isolation, possible loss of economic security, or even a change in the family dynamic. Only after their lives take a turn does a smattering of warm, soft colors overcome this.
VERDICT This title gently relates the experience of one child coping with difficult times, and possibly points out pitfalls and solutions for others going through similar situations.

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