cover image SHADOW NIGHT


Kay Chorao, . . Dutton, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46685-7

At the start of Chorao's (Here Comes Kate) somewhat slim story, the moon shines through the rustling curtains of James's bedroom window, creating shadows that look like monsters to the frightened child. When the boy's father pulls the curtains back, only a luminous square on the wall by James's bed remains, which serves as the backdrop for a shadow play. The youngster's parents reassure him using shadows made by their hands to depict the shapes of various animals in a brief adventure. Though the easy-to-imitate shadow play gives the tale some dimension, the narrative is flat and rather listless ("Elephant was walking by and heard [two spiders talking]. He took them on his trunk and waved them high in the air. 'Now we are bigger than anyone, even Alligator,' [the spiders] said. Everyone laughed. Ha-ha"). Chorao's artwork, on the other hand, achieves an appealing balance of the real and the fanciful. She creates lifelike images of the endearing James and his parents, and pairs closely focused pictures of pairs of hands creating the animal silhouettes with full-color animated critters that act out the story-within-a-story below. Though uneven, this work may well spark the imaginations of aspiring shadow players. Ages 3-6. (May)