THE SHADOW ELEPHANT | Kirkus Reviews


Misery loves company, they say. This Canadian import, translated from the French, deftly deconstructs that cliché.

A blue elephant, eyes closed, lies on the ground, in the shadows. His friends on the savanna have been discussing his mental state: Is he gloomy or sad, they wonder, or does he prefer shadows? The monkey tells a joke, the ostrich sisters perform a can-can dance in high heels, and the crocodile brings him a treat. Nothing succeeds in cheering him up. A mouse, who merely wants to rest next to the elephant, appears. “You’re not here to change my mind?” the intrigued elephant asks, finally sitting up. After the mouse tells the elephant its woes, a story involving regret and shame, both of them release a “flood of tears.” For the first time the elephant, “drained of his tears,” stands. The two head off into the night. The book’s uncluttered compositions with tightly framed perspectives and Vidali’s sure lines and simple shapes reduce the dramatic action to its essentials. The palette, dominated by velvety, richly colored blues, heightens the book’s emotional impact, and the beguiling use of light and shadow establishes a wistful, pensive mood. The story, including its evocative title, can serve as an effective conversation starter on topics such as compassion, melancholy, and what it means to be a friend.

A deeply felt, truly empathetic story about the value of sharing burdens with others.

(Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59270-312-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020





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