JAHDU by Virginia Hamilton


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"I'm a streak of light! I'm a trick-maker! I'm Jahdu just running through!" This free self-description is the first suggestion we get of Jahdu's identity, and it occurs after pages of Jahdu running along, shaking off his "Jahdu dust" anti gathering it back into himself; trying to put a "wing-low bird" to sleep and then trying to change into the child Lee Edward but failing in both attempts because, as both bird and boy tell him, "you have lost something and you don't know it"). Jahdu himself is absent from the pictures, and beginning readers who have not encountered him in Hamilton's previous stories will have a hard time forming any picture of her elusive figment. Those who stick with the story will be treated to some rich and snappy dialogue between Jahdu and his shadow, and some highly imaginative, playfully mythic doings off beyond the horizon. There Jahdu confronts the pesky CIGAM, which turns out to be his own magic, spelled backwards and wrapped around his rebellious shadow. The adventure is related with a spellbinding profusion of imagery, rhythm, and impish exuberance, which makes it well worth trying. In the realms to which Hamilton transports them, children might miss the orienting presence of a companion that can be either seen (to the end, we glimpse only Jahdu's shadow and a pair of sandaled feet), defined (is he an imaginary boy, a spirit, or what?), or traced somewhere (there's no storytelling Mama Luka here, no background on the passing Lee Edwards). Elusive.
Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1980
ISBN: 068880246X
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: Greenwillow
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1980


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