A young white girl in a snowy, onion-domed fairyland setting escapes from her shadow only to find she is not whole without it.
Hortense hates her shadow. It follows her everywhere, it does everything she does, and it grows “tall and dark / and crooked” when night falls. One day, Hortense escapes from her shadow, slamming the window on it, and her shadow is left behind. Hortense feels happy and free without the hated shadow—until the bandits show up. (These bandits are hidden within the illustrations throughout the book for sharp-eyed readers to discover.) When her shadow saves her, Hortense realizes that instead of being a hated nuisance, her shadow is an indispensable part of her, and so, in good fairy-tale fashion, all ends happily ever after. Natalia O'Hara's playful, dreamlike story is written in a lyrical cadence and relies on the poetry of the words themselves more than the reality they outline for meaning: (“she was as sad as an owl”). Lauren O’Hara (the O’Haras are sisters) contributes her own layer to the story’s fanciful mood with her soft illustrations of muted colors, filled with snowy landscapes, looming trees (for the scary bits), and storybook, folkloric buildings whose interiors show whimsical decorative details.
A delicate original fairy tale that will likely appeal to young readers of imagination. (Picture book. 3-5)