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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow, written by Michelle Cuevas and illustrated by Sydney Smith. Tundra, 2017. $22.99 ages 5 and up

"This is my chance! thought Smoot. He packed a few things - some shade, some moonlight, a change of underpants - and hit the road. Other shadows watched Smoot. The sight made them brave. "If he can follow his dreams, we can too." First, a dandelion's shadow flew away."

Smoot's life hasn't changed much in the seven plus years he has been attached to his boy. While the boy lives a measured life, Smoot longs for action. But, they are attached and life goes on.

Luckily, a shadow can dream. In his dreams, Smoot abandons the drab landscape that is his and dreams of all things colorful. These dreams augur well for him when Smoot and his boy lose their attachment by unknown means. Finally, he has the freedom to be what he wants to be, and do what he longs to do.

Watching Smoot enjoy life in wondrous wordless spreads will have young readers wanting to join in the fun. Observant children will see that his boy is also watching. Smoot skips rope while others go about their day in the park. Then, he moves on to ride a carousel, climb a tree, and race through a flower-filled landscape. Other shadows are out there, watching closely as he cavorts from one activity to the next. They, too, want to follow their own dreams.

A dandelion shadow breaks away. The people on the ground make guesses as to what they are seeing.

"It's a baby storm cloud."
"It's smoke from a dollhouse chimney."
"It's a butterfly made of mist."

With each turn of the page, more shadows seek their freedom and do what they have been longing to do. Smoot sees what is happening, and worries that the shadows could become wild and dangerous. He hatches a plan to find a suitable place for those shadows already free. Satisfied that they have lived their dreams, the shadows decide return to their original state.

What about Smoot? You will have to find the book, then check to see for yourself.

The plotline is so unique and engaging. Kids will watch in wonder as the story progresses. Sydney Smith creates his images in 'ink, brush, and watercolor, with a bit of Conte'. The contrast between black and color is effective in establishing mood. Smoot's outside-the-lines existence is full of joy, and enlightening for his boy.

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