SHY by Deborah Freedman
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 3 - 7
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Someone extremely shy finds a friend.

Shy (his name as well as his defining characteristic) is happiest “between the pages of a book.” This is both metaphorical—he’s happiest when reading his stack of bird books—and literal: Shy isn’t depicted on the page, and a thin arrow indicates he’s hiding in the spine of Freedman’s book. The illustrations show tiny rocks, bits of grass, faint airborne bubbles and musical notes—and a small yellow bird who perches on the stack of books, capturing Shy’s whole heart with her song. He’s too bashful to reveal himself, but when she departs, he follows. Only his footsteps can be seen. Shy journeys across landscapes to the ocean, seeing animals—walrus, elephant, aardvark, hippo, whale—and, finally, his bird. Again, he can’t speak. She disappears; he heads home, heartbroken. But she flies by, and this time, Shy emerges from the book’s spine to greet her—musically. This is the first time readers see who he is, though in hindsight, they’ll realize he may have appeared earlier. Freedman’s fine pencil lines, graceful animals, superb compositions, and spare text are virtuosic, but the backgrounds are the soul of Shy’s tale: breathtaking watercolor washes blend hues softly from one section of the natural color spectrum to another, opaquely connoting desert, mountains, skies, dawn, and night.

An exquisite treasure for bashful readers, animal lovers, and anyone who’s ever wanted a friend. (Picture book. 3-7, adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-451-47496-4
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2016


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