cover image Shadow Story

Shadow Story

Nancy Willard. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201638-8

Willard (The Tortilla Cat) brings her considerable storytelling powers to this enchanting tale of a girl with the wit and ingenuity to outfox a formidable opponent. Holly Go Lolly, thanks to a blessing from a fairy godmother, grows up unafraid of the dark and with a gift for making shadow figures with her hands. When the dreaded Ooboo gobbles up both her father and mother, she sets off for his mountain palace, armed with nothing but her imagination and her shadow artistry. The enterprising heroine handily conquers Ooboo and, in a tacked-on ending--the book's only misstep--converts his palace into a library. Willard's eloquent tale is alight with vivid images, including the shadowy fairy godmother ""sidling along the wall"" and ""snip-snapping her shears--clip clap!"" In illustrations reminiscent of his work in The Little Scarecrow Boy, Diaz unifies the images with shades of orange and green (at times, Holly, with her billowy orange skirt and green bodice, resembles a pumpkin). Drawing from the style he used so effectively in The Disappearing Alphabet, the artist creates spot art that resembles paper cut-outs and that emulates Holly's silhouetted figures. The world he creates is wholly original, as is his Ooboo--both fierce and comical, with an extra set of eyes at shoulder level and a single leaf sprouting from his bald pate. Both verbally and visually compelling, this splendid fantasy is one to be savored. Ages 5-10. (Oct.)