cover image Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow

Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow

Michelle Cuevas, illus. by Sydney Smith. Dial, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-525-42969-2

Smoot is a shadow attached to a boy whose life is terribly dull: “Every day they brushed the same teeth, frowned the same frown, and drew the same pictures—always staying perfectly inside the lines.” While Smoot’s life is boring, Smith’s ink, brush, and watercolor portraits are anything but. To emphasize Smoot’s inky blackness, Smith (The White Cat and the Monk) keeps the colors bright and contrast high; tiled roofs and cobbled streets give the city backdrop a European feel. One day Smoot comes unstuck from his boy and seizes his new freedom, jumping rope in the park, riding a carousel, and dashing through a landscape of wild splashes of watercolor. When other bored shadows jump at the chance to live out their own suppressed dreams, Smoot must persuade them all to return. The shadow’s change of heart is a bit convenient, but Cuevas’s (The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles) writing sparkles. Smoot’s condition as a shadow parallels the way most humans are tethered to inescapable obligations. When his boy breaks out and starts to live large, it’s easy to share Smoot’s joy. Ages 4–8. Agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Sept.)