The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere, Vol. 1)

245p. 978-0-80373-440-1.
Gr 4-6 Olive Dunwoody and her mathematically minded parents move into an old Victorian home complete with the deceased owner's furnishings. Olive first notices that something is wrong when she can't take the paintings off the wall. She sees things moving in them. Then, while rummaging through the drawers, she finds a pair of glasses and tries them on. Olive can now enter the paintings and talk to the people in them. She is warned by a talking cat named Horatio not to spend too much time in there or to lose the glasses. She meets Morton in a painting and learns that he was forced into it because of a conversation he overheard. Olive is determined to find out more about the house and its history. But who can she trust? Her neighbors, the talking cats, or the people in the paintings? The expressive black-and-white illustrations contribute to the overall spooky mood of the story. The plot moves quickly as Olive pieces together clues. Recommend this book to reluctant readers and fans of Neil Gaiman's "Coraline" (HarperCollins, 2002)."Samantha Larsen Hastings, West Jordan Public Library, UT" Copyright 2010 Media Source Inc.
Olive finds a pair of spectacles that let her enter the paintings in her family's decrepit Victorian mansion. There she finds cats who aren't quite feline and late homeowners who aren't quite dead. Even at their most dire--and darkly illustrated--Olive's circumstances are too fantastical to be really frightening; naive Olive figures it all out in time to regain control.
Olive’s reaction to the mysteries surrounding her is entirely believable. Her curiosity makes her brave, but she’s not immune to fear. Readers will easily relate to Olive’s desire to learn more about her creepy house and simultaneous apprehension at the prospect. The three cats that inhabit Olive’s house are great sidekicks. Each has a distinct personality, and they play off one another humorously. Jacqueline West builds an eerie and mysterious world. A steady stream of details ensures that readers will continue turning the pages as they try to solve the mystery of Olive’s house along with her.

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