Age range 3 to 9In our old house, Ma told me there was nothing to be scared of. No monsters hiding behind doors, or in wardrobes, or under beds. She said there were no dark places at all. But in the new house, under my new bed, that's where I found Shadow.
Reviewed by Rachel Elvidge
Shadow is an emotionally charged picturebook that explores how children can feel unseen.
The little narrator of this atmospheric picturebook has moved into a new home. Ignored by her seemingly depressed mother, she discovers Shadow living under the bed. He’s a fun playmate for a lonely child, and yet, because of the skilful illustration, has a slight air of menace about him. Mum still can’t see him, but he seems to be growing bigger and bigger. Then Shadow and his new friend decide to leave home together…
As in Not Now Bernard, the theme of parents not seeing what is in front of them, and by extension, not seeing their child, is a theme always worth exploring. In this case, the mother seems unable to see out from her blanket of sorrow. In the illustrations, she is portrayed with subtlety, always distracted and sad. We wonder why they have had to move.
Shadow would be a great start for some PSHE class or small group work on anxieties about parental unhappiness or depression, and feeling ignored or lonely. More generally, it also offers opportunities to make predictions and discuss motivations.
Although a little dark, the book ends on an optimistic note. When she realises her daughter is missing, the mother sets out to find her, and the pages fill with colour as they enjoy time together and make new friends.