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Volume VIII Number 12 . . . . February 15, 2002
Everything that Shines is the story of the relationship between an elderly horse named Shekinah, a little girl, Maddie, and her grandfather, Pius, who all live on a farm in Prince Edward Island. The grandfather, who loved both horses and his granddaughter, spent much time talking to Shekinah and Maddie. In the winter, while her father and grandfather did the chores in the barn, Maddie's job was to be with Shekinah, and she sat on her back.. During the summer, when the horse was outside, she and her grandfather visited Shekinah and offered her a carrot. One summer, Maddie commented that Shekinah looked sad, and she wondered if Shekinah were waiting for something. By the next winter, Shekinah was very tired and did not even nicker when Maddie entered into the barn. One day Shekinah's stall was empty, and Maddie's grandfather told her that Shekinah had died. He embraced her as they talked about the shine in the horse's eye. Then he proceeded to show Maddie many places in her environment where the shine was like that of Shekinah. This shine could be a way to remember her. The powerful story is about a magical light that shines in everything when you love with all your heart, even after the loved one has gone. Readers will be very moved by the comments of the grandfather about Shekinah, and likely there won't be a dry eye in the classroom after a read-aloud. The writing style is that of the story teller and anecdotal whereby incidental information about names, or comments, such as " Maddie, of course, didn't call him Pius the Pond. She just called him Grandpa," give the story humour. This nostalgic story will be easily recommended to each teacher looking for a simple story filled with love and devotion.
Artist Dale MacNevin has created very realistic drawings and paintings of traditional farm life on Prince Edward Island. She has captured particularly well the personality of the horse with her expressive brown eyes. MacNevin's work complements the story beautifully.
The book definitely speaks to the theme of death. When Maddie asks her grandfather "if she"ll ever see the horse again," he answers, "Oh yes, but not in the same way. Now you have to see her in a different way." He continues so that Maddie discovers that everything that shines can remind her of the horse. While Everything That Shines is not a Christmas story as such, the horse dies close to Christmas time, and the grandfather shows Maddie the shine of the "moon on the crusty snow and on the ice on the pond, on the end of the dog's black nose and the dark purple sheen on a Christmas plum." They "sit down in front of the Christmas tree and together they stared at the lights, glimmering in the tinsel and reflecting off the round ball."
Collections needing a nostalgic story will appreciate Everything That Shines.
Meredith MacKeen is a teacher-librarian at Glen Stewart School in Stratford, P.E.I.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.