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Hortense and the Shadow Hardcover – Picture Book, November 7, 2017
"There Was an Old Mummy Who Swallowed a Spider" by Jennifer Ward
From the creators of the bestselling There Was an Old Monkey Who Swallowed a Frog comes a spooky rendition of the popular “Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” song. | Learn more
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From School Library Journal
An Amazon Best Book of November 2017
"A handsome debut picture book...beautifully designed."―The New York Times
"A delicate original fairy tale that will likely appeal to young readers of imagination."―Kirkus Reviews
"Children who love eerie stories will be fascinated."―Publishers Weekly
"A uniquely told tale with beautiful illustrations."―School Library Journal
"Inquisitive youngsters seeking a bedtime yarn with equal parts spooky suspense and serious reflection will find it in this wintry wonderland."―Booklist
"Eerie...Wintry, shadowy art in white, black, grays, and pale blues creates the right atmosphere for this darkly suspenseful tale, and the images are tricky enough to keep readers and listeners questioning what they see and what to believe."―The Horn Book
"This story with a touch of the macabre works on many levels and will encourage such things as confidence and self-esteem."
―The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- Item Weight : 1.01 pounds
- Hardcover : 32 pages
- Grade Level : Preschool - 3
- ISBN-10 : 0316440795
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316440790
- Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Illustrated Edition (November 7, 2017)
- Product Dimensions : 8.69 x 0.49 x 11.32 inches
- Language: : English
- Reading level : 4 - 8 years
- Best Sellers Rank: #964,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Hortense lives in a large house deep in the snowy woods, but she’s sad because she hates her shadow. It follows her everywhere! One day, she becomes so upset that she cuts her shadow off. Then! Well, then she sings with happiness. Until… something terrible arrives in the night. Hortense learns that her shadow, like her sometimes sad, mad, and wild feelings, is another part of herself.
Hortense and the Shadow is a wintry sort of book, with a bit of a contrary personality. Hortense herself is a singular, stubborn figure: she’s kind and brave, and at the same time deeply unhappy with a part of herself. There are sinister forces at work, as well as magical. Hortense acts – in what adults might label a foolish way. Overall the book is a bit odd, a lot creative, with a dash of menace mixed in (like a proper fairy tale).
While the prose is lovely (“sad as an owl” is my favorite new simile), the art is, hands down, the best part of this book. The cover has rose gold foil detailing on the dust jacket and the boards themselves are a light peach. Inside, Lauren O’Hara has created beautiful, muted watercolor illustrations full of Eastern European-style buildings, gingerbread-like detailing, and woodland creatures. Eagle-eyed readers will also notice menacing men hiding in margins, adding to the juxtaposition of beauty and darkness throughout.
All in all, Hortense and the Shadow a delightfully dark fairy tale of a book in a charming package.
Recommended for: fans of fairy tales – all ages, anyone who has enjoyed Bethan Woollvin’s picture books, and those looking for magical stories no matter the time of year.
The illustrations in this book are beautiful. Alternating between full-page and small pictures, illustrator Lauren O’Hara captures Hortense’s dislike and fear as the shadow looms over her. Ms. O’Hara makes the woods around Hortense’s home appear both friendly and frightening, as the story progresses. Her illustrations pair perfectly with her sister, author Natalia O’Hara’s, story of Hortense.
I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.
Young Hortense thinks having a shadow is annoying, and doesn't like how it is sometimes big and sometimes small. So she hatches a plan to lock it away from herself. Ultimately though, she learns that a shadow can be useful and can help her protect their home.
This is written and illustrated by sisters in London who based it on their Polish grandmother's tales - the Central European background comes through clearly and we see how a house could be isolated in the woods outside the city. Especially during deep snow!
I recommend the book for kids up to eight years, especially if they have annoying little siblings. Even kids who can't read yet will be fascinated by the art.
I read an e-ARC through Net Galley and Fresh Fiction. This is an unbiased review.
It is an interesting read about a girl called Hortense. She dislikes her shadow and is annoyed it follows her everywhere she goes. It takes a scary event for her to appreciate what she has lost. A shadow may be scary at times but it can also have advantages.
This is a creative story with a difference. I really enjoyed this book. It has a hidden meaning behind the story which could be adapted to fit children's fears.
5 stars out of 5.
*ARC received in exchange for a fair review*
Top reviews from other countries
This is super cute. A lovely story exploring the need to love oneself and all that comes with that. The setting is wonderful, a medieval snowy environment. This is a short, easy, but sweet and highly enjoyable folk tale. The artwork throughout is simply stunning. So much so, I ordered a couple of prints to display in my office.
Maddie’s thoughts (8yr old niece):
“It was beautiful. It is so peaceful and lovely. 5 stars.”
Anyway, we’re off to frolic in the woods. Peace and Love.
Slightly darker than the tales I usually read to my children.
It was an accessible way to share the underlying message about embracing who you are and led to interesting discussions!
This book was well received by both male and female readers - and they were particularly enamoured with the illustrations.