CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 16 . . . . December 22, 2017
Smoot the shadow is attached to a very dull boy who never laughs, leaps or indulges in any wild escapades. The boy never colours outside of the lines. Although Smoot's life is described as yawn coloured, his dreams are filled with the energy of canary yellow songs and wildflower reds. Smoot has a chance to experience his dreams when suddenly, with the sound of a pop, Smoot is no longer tethered to the boy.
The colourful ink and watercolour drawings of Sydney Smith (Sidewalk Flowers and The White Cat and the Monk) tell the story of Smoot's newfound freedom while he skips, rides the carousel and climbs a tree. The illustrations express more movement as Smoot enjoys his colour-filled day and the boy watches quietly on the side lines.
The writing of Michelle Cuevas illustrates the secret desires of the other shadows who want to join in on the fun and to experience their own dreams with poetic imageries. Grasshoppers play music, a frog wants the experience of a storytime prince, and a dragonfly imagines himself a dragon. Soon Smoot realizes that the shadows must return to where they came from and cleverly convinces them that, together with their characters, they can live out their dreams. Smoot celebrates creativity and imagination while living our dreams.
While reading Smoot, I did wonder why the boy is so dull. There is no explanation to this, and I may be overthinking it, but I was curious about what is holding him back from being a normal child. Had he suffered a loss, was he not well, or was he oppressed in some way? A child's natural intuition is to be playful. Perhaps this question is not relevant with respect to the ultimate message of living to one's own potential.
Tamara Opar is Section Head of Children's and Teen Services at the Millennium Branch of Winnipeg Public Library.