SHADOWS by Dennis Haseley


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 8 - 11
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 Young Jamie is staying with his father's sister while his widowed mother looks for a job in New England. He's an obliging, rather timid boy, unfamiliar with his aunt and uncle and their West Virginia community, uncomplaining about Aunt Elena's stern, inexplicable insistence on keeping an eye on him. Soon after he arrives, he meets an old man who explains that he's Jamie's Grandpa. Grandpa quickly establishes a bond with the lonely boy by making shadows with his hands--a bobcat and (Jamie's special favorite) Tobias, a dog--telling him stories about his animated figures and teaching Jamie to make them. Left alone on one occasion, Jamie finds Grandpa and spends a happy, innocent day with him. Aunt Elena, distraught, concludes that Grandpa is a bad influence and that the two should be kept apart. This understated story holds attention with its air of quiet mystery. Jamie's dad Bill, it's suggested, may not have been what Jamie has imagined: Was he a hero in the fire in which he died, or did he start it? Perhaps easygoing Grandpa had encouraged his son's wildness--hence Elena's concern. Meanwhile, the shadows make an appropriately elusive image: in some ways, Jamie is like his dad--he even, in a dramatic concluding incident, saves Grandpa from a fire; but he is more like the shadow of what Bill might have been. Like Paulsen's The Cookcamp (p. 50/C-10), a sensitive, evocative story of a solitary child among adults who are new to him. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10th, 1991
ISBN: 0-374-36761-2
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991


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