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[Monday Reading] Of Darkness and Shadows – “The Dark” and “The Shadow”

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Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

Here are a few of the reviews we have done last week. We are also inviting everyone to join our Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge. We hosted the AWB Challenge last year and we are thrilled to be able to host it again. Do sign up if you are looking for exciting reading challenges with monthly book prizes. Click on the titles/images below to be taken to our blog posts.

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[Photo Journal/ A-Z Photo Story Challenge] L is for Leaves

Bakas ng lumipas

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Why We Love Our Monsters

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[Book Hunting Expedition 71] Random Book Buys from Bras Basah

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As we play around with our current bimonthly theme, I thought of sharing with you two books that show those things which lurk and prowl patiently in the corners of one’s mind: darkness and shadows. These books also demonstrate how children can shine a beam of light through those cobwebbed, musty fears – dusting them off with a flashlight, outscaring the fear.

IMG_8712The Shadow

Story and Illustrations By: Donna Diamond
Published byCandlewick Press, 2010
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

I grabbed this book from our library shelves on a lark – not really knowing what to expect as Donna Diamond is an unfamiliar book artist. The book cover caught my eye, though, with the shadowy creature behind the young girl.

As I opened the book, I was delighted to find out that this a wordless picture book. Some of you might know that we did a wordless book theme in 2011 and even came up with a list of wordless picture books here.

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I love how lifelike the illustrations are here, almost like photographs. Donna Diamond also allows the creepiness to gradually take shape as the girl plays around with sketches in her bedroom. The build-up escalates until the girl is confronted with the shadowy contours of her fear and how it can grow bigger, the dimensions seemingly altered out-of-proportions and taking a life of its own.

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How this girl confronted this skulking creature, I shall leave for you to discover. Suffice it to say, that the book deals with confronting one’s own demons and demonstrates how staring shadows in the face can prove to be a transformative experience. This could also be paired quite beautifully with the wordless picture books of Suzy Lee: Mirror and Shadow.

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Story By: Lemony Snicket
Artwork by: Jon Klassen
Published by: Orchard books, 2013. Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

I have not come across a Lemony Snicket book that I did not enjoy. Jon Klassen is a hit-and-miss with his I Want my Hat Back and This is not my Hat not making so much an impression on me as much as House Held Up by Trees and Extra Yarn.

This book though is an absolute hands-down favourite. It talks about things most children are scared of but may be too proud to admit as they grow older. I think even adults are scared of this but they make use of bedside lamps and other fancy adult gadgets and dim lighting to obscure the truth of their fears.

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In this book, Laszlo, the young boy who is unabashedly afraid of the dark, finds out that ‘The Dark’ has a voice. And while it sometimes scurries off in forgotten corners, like the cupboard or behind the shower curtains, it lives in the basement. Klassen, I believe, has outdone himself in his ingenious use of black spaces – allowing the darkness to breathe through the pages:

Click on the image to be taken to the websource: Mothermetroid.tumblr

Click on the image to be taken to the websource: Mothermetroid.tumblr

While the darkness did give a brief borderline-lecture in the end, the seduction of shadows and the inviting voice of darkness are perfectly captured here, so much so that I gave a little shriek somewhere in the middle and slammed the book close before opening it up again to Laszlo’s surprisingly-steadfast demeanour notwithstanding (or maybe even because of) his fears and anxieties. One question that I shall leave for you, dear friends: if the darkness beckons “Come closer” – will you come?

Currently Reading…

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The missing characters from the previous book have a parallel story going on in this tome of a novel, hence the timeline is a little screwy as reading the first part of this book takes me back to the earlier part of the last novel I read. There are even a few repetitive sections as the same scene is being rehashed, except that it is now perceived from another character’s eye (e.g. Samwell Tarly’s account in A Feast for Crows paralleled to Jon Snow’s account in this novel). It’s an acquired taste, admittedly. Reading this series requires a great deal of commitment indeed.

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Read-a-Latte Challenge Update:  192/193 (150)

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9 comments on “[Monday Reading] Of Darkness and Shadows – “The Dark” and “The Shadow”

  1. Love that you did a book walk of those two, and you seem to be getting in the mood for Halloween already! Lots of spooky books. Reminds me that I need to pull books for a Halloween display now. :)

    The Monster Report

  2. Have to find “The Shadow” Myra-how scary it looks! I loved “The Dark” too, & while it might not be good for my 4 year old granddaughter now, I’ll keep it in mind for later. She’s enthralled with monsters and ghosts now! I agree that Lemony Snicket outdid himself in this one. And, my daughter was also enthralled with The Game of Thrones books-it is indeed a commitment! Thanks for all!

  3. I really enjoyed The Dark and think it’s a great book to help ease darkness fears from younger students. The Shadow looks like an amazing companion to it – the illustrations look amazing and I love that it’s a wordless picture book. Looks like a good one to practice inferring! Thanks for the recommendations!

  4. Oooh..The Dark – I need to get this, Myra!

  5. The illustrations in The Shadow look amazing! I love teaching with wordless picture books and this book seems like it would be a great addition to my collection. Thanks for sharing!

  6. The Shadow looks really cool. I loved The Dark. Seems like a good week of reading.

  7. I loved The Dark! The illustrations in The Shadow are totally creepy!

  8. Jon Klassen’s illustrations are great in this book. And I love finding wordless picture books as well. The Line by Paula Bossio is a new one with a beast in one of the spreads.

  9. Again some great books! Have you read Eve Bunting’s The Banshee? Another fantastic spooky book I am a huge fan of The Dark So great to see it here.

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