cover image The Dark and the Light

The Dark and the Light

Kerstin Hau, illus. by Julie Völk. NorthSouth, $17.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-735843-85-1

Lonely Shaggy lives in the darkness, looking longingly “across at the place of shining colors.” Sunbathing Sparkle looks askance at the gloomy darkness thinking, “I wouldn’t want to go there. But I’m curious all the same.” In a moment of simultaneous bravery, they meet at the threshold, and together, they spend time in the bluish band between their worlds. When one day Sparkle is engulfed by the darkness, a knowing Shaggy tends to his frightened and disoriented friend. Gradually, with the help of Shaggy’s comforting presence, Sparkle learns to live in the darkness. Hau expertly expands a familiar metaphor for sadness and houses it in the surreal. Völk’s delicate artwork employs the cyanotype method; each page turn reveals a dreamlike spread that cleverly plays with dark (cyanotype) and light (negative space). At first, Shaggy’s world distinctly occupies the left page and Sparkle’s the right; as their conversation unfolds, the bluish band shifts and bends with the emotional arc. A pensive and affecting story about how togetherness emboldens tired spirits, especially in the darkest corners. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)