A shadowy revelation makes for a gentle story about friendship and understanding.
Little Cheetah’s shadow (fittingly named Little Shadow) has abandoned him. When Little Cheetah finally finds his companion, he learns that Little Shadow has felt neglected. Little Cheetah, his shadow says, is always in the lead and gets to choose where they go. Rather than respond defensively (“That doesn’t sound very nice at all,” he says instead), Little Cheetah quite literally lets his shadow take the lead (the laws of physics need not apply). Both get a sense of how it feels to walk in each other’s shoes, especially when Little Shadow inadvertently lets a door close on Little Cheetah’s tail, something about which Little Shadow had previously complained. The pair decides that walking side by side is best—until they reach a dark tunnel. Darkness erases the gray, transparent Little Shadow, so the solid, vividly orange Little Cheetah takes the lead, flashlight in hand. These empathetic characters make thoughtful efforts to gain perspective and understand each other in this earnest and sweet (but never cloying) story from the author of Otto and Pio (2019) and The Lion and the Bird (2014), two other tender tales of friendship. Dubuc’s colored pencil–and-watercolor illustrations on spacious, uncluttered spreads depict a tiny, intimate village of anthropomorphized creatures; Little Cheetah’s home is particularly cozy.
What compassion looks like—without a shadow of a doubt. (Picture book. 4-7)