A child finds a new playmate, but troubles hang like a cloud over the house.
After a move, the narrator discovers Shadow, a spectral boy, under the bed. They spend days together, although the narrator’s perpetually distracted mother does not perceive Shadow even as his shape changes. Eventually, the two leave and wander into the woods, where Shadow goes off, leaving the child alone in a visually arresting spread that isolates the muffler-clad child on a nearly all-black page. After “a while, a very long while,” the child reunites with Ma when they recognize each other’s shadows. The white-presenting pair play and invite diverse new friends over for tea, including a cat that could be Shadow, who is not unwelcome. The digital artwork strategically uses grayscale with red and navy accents. The tale is definitely uncanny, featuring a doppelgänger (“In the dark, Shadow and me were the same”), and the characters’ washed-out eyes have an eerie look. Rest assured, there is a happy ending, with the mother present for multiple pages after the woods. Dappled edges and scratched textures embellish the dreamlike atmosphere. Whether seen as a metaphor for fear, grief, depression, or something else, this story professes that denial is not the way to deal with one’s troubles; it is better to communicate and be together.
Sensitively shines a metaphorical light onto scary but nonetheless real emotions. (Picture book. 3-8)