Sneaky Shadows by S C Manchild, illustrated by Sam Caldwell

Sneaky Shadows by S C Manchild, illustrated by Sam Caldwell. Berbay Books, c2020, 2022. 9781922610454

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  A guessing game format will make Sneaky Shadows an entertaining read aloud. Light blue endpapers with familiar shadow shapes let us know that things are not always what they seem. Readers are admonished to guess what’s producing the inky black shadow and then turn the page for the big reveal. At first, it’s easy. Two penguin-shaped shadows stand wing to wing; when we turn the page, we get to giggle at the dressed-up, happily married couple with 4 children (Dave wears a tux – of course – while Michelle has on a fetching red top and garish gold necklace). Then (obviously) a giraffe followed by a camel. But wait, it’s not a camel but rather a llama balancing two molded Jello creations on its back. And so on. Colorful fonts and goofy asides keep the laughs coming (a swan on skis instead of an elephant and a frantic kangaroo babysitter instead of a T-rex). The slick digital illustrations are easy on the eyes and plentiful white space means we can focus on the riddles.

Anything you didn’t like about it? It is an Australian import so there are some words and phrases that will be unfamiliar to children in the U.S. Some of the animal descriptions were a little weird; the gorilla and the snake that are kissing each other because they’re young and in love or the swans who can’t afford skis.

To whom would you recommend this book?  I can see this becoming a favorite for kids age 3-5 for its sheer goofiness. Probably good for a library as once you’ve read it, you’ll already know what all the shadows turn out to be and won’t need to read it again.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: February 5, 2023

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