Change. It's hard to deal with at any age, but it is especially difficult for young children. In Shadow, by Jill Newsome, Rosy and her family move to a new house, far from her friends, her school, and everything familiar. Suddenly her world is turned upside down. In fact, life becomes pretty miserable for poor Rosy. Any child in a turbulent situation can empathize: sometimes everything feels just plain wrong, which can make for a cranky existence. Fortunately this state of misery never lasts forever. For Rosy, things start to look up when she walks home from school one snowy day and finds an injured rabbit in the woods. She and her family adopt the rabbit and nurse it back to health. It quickly becomes Rosy's first new friend, following her everywhere and earning it the name Shadow. But life is never easy, and no good story is that simple. One day Shadow disappears, and Rosy is again distraught until a girl from her new school brings Shadow home in a box. Now Rosy has a second new friend to play with, and life is a lot more, well, rosy!Shadow is extremely effective in its simplicity. In very few words, Newsome is able to communicate the pain of childhood loneliness and sadness. Her lyrical text is nicely complemented by the watercolor illustrations of her husband, Claudio Munoz, who has illustrated several children's books including Man Mountain, Little Captain, and Come Back Grandma. Munoz's stormy paintings deftly convey the anger and fear Rosy feels towards her strange new world, and later her pleasure in companionship. With such sparse text, Munoz's pictures are essential to the overall mood of the book. Shadow reminds us all that change is indeed scary, but that with time and patience things ultimately work out in the end. Rosy learns that once you make new friends, life is a lot less threatening. These are simple truisms, but valuable ones that apply to children of all ages.
Lisa Horak is a freelance writer and full-time mother.