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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Shadow, illustrated by Suzy Lee. Chronicle Books, 2010. $17.99 all ages


It's when I see the fun that Suzy Lee has in creating her remarkable picture books that I wish I had just one ounce of that creativity! In this wordless work (well, there are two words and you've already read them!), she shows us how spirit and imagination bring joy to the lives of young children.

It begins when the attic light is turned on, and our young miss notices that shadows are cast below her. As the pages turn, her sense of wonder soars and soon she is inhabiting a totally different world. The objects are common; a ladder, a broom, a bike, an old hose, a vacuum, and some boxes. It is what Suzy Lee does with them on the shadow side that takes our breath away. For, at the top, we can see what is really happening but in the shadows, we get to see a little girl's brave and fanciful other world.

It is so typical of the young child, and it is so charming to think that the world around her offers these delights. With her fingers she fantasizes a bird, with an old shoe a wolf. The shadows grow and the story does, too. The bird flies off, flowers appear, along with the sun and moon. As we look from top to bottom we clearly see the two distinct worlds open to us. It is not long until the shadow world begins to change and become more sinister, leaving her in the attic world with only the vacuum and some boxes for company.

The wolf formulates a plan to make her his dinner and she must find protection on the shadowed side. The table turns. Finding himself alone now, the wolf is inconsolable. Not to worry, peace prevails...and then dinner is called! Her world returns to its original form and all is well once again. The light clicks off and we are left to savor this wonderful journey of the imagination.

But, wait! There's more. Now, turn it upside down and read it from a distinctly different's amazing! Thank you, Suzy Lee.

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