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For anyone who has ever dealt with an overwhelming feeling of sadness or depression, The Shadow Elephant will really strike a chord with you. We will all be touched by depression at some point in our lives…whether it is our own or that of a friend or loved one. Shadow elephant is a gorgeous new picture book publishing in September that tackles this topic so tenderly and beautifully. It is both a story of sadness, but also of friendship. I can’t wait to share this one with you.
Picture books have an ability that very few books have. They have the ability to take a difficult topic and present it in such a beautiful and relatable manner. The topic of sadness and depression is such a relevant one in our lives today, yet it is still a topic that people steer clear of. It is still taboo. People are afraid to speak about it for fear of what others will think.
Shadow Elephant is the story of an elephant who is so overwhelmed with sadness that his entire world is blue and covered in shadows. In contrast, all of his animal friends on the Savannah are so full of light and color. I was so immediately struck by the images. The shades of blue and the posture of the elephant just convey so much pain and emotion.
Elephant’s friends hate to see their friend so sad. So, they decide they want to do all sorts of things to cheer him up. They try to make him laugh and do things that he has always loved in the past. Nothing seems to work. The animals leave their friend, defeated by their inability to help him. Elephant has reached his lowest point. He is alone with his sadness. Then a mouse appears and asks to sit next to Elephant to rest. Mouse doesn’t try to make Elephant laugh or smile. She just sits there and shares the same space with Elephant. Mouse begins to share her story and before long elephant is crying. Then Mouse begins crying. It isn’t long before the new friends have cried their last tear and both feel so much lighter. Elephant emerges from the shadows, and together with Mouse, they begin to walk away.
Wow, you guys. This book really hit me. The combination of the beautiful writing by author Nadine Robert and the emotive illustrations by Valerio Vidali were simply amazing. This book is going to stick with me for a long time. There are very few picture books that so delicately and tenderly tackle the topic of sadness and depression. I was truly blown away by just how well they conveyed these deep feelings of sadness. The shadows and the blues, the different postures of the elephants…just WOW. Perfect.
One of the things that I loved the most about this book was the emphasis that it is OK to feel your feelings. Even though Elephants friends had wonderful intentions when they were trying to cheer him up and make him laugh, Elephant really just needed to feel his feelings. He needed someone like Mouse to just sit with him and BE. Not be happy, not pretend everything is OK. Just BE. It is OK to cry, and sometimes it is just the release that we need.
What a wonderful book this would be to help kids understand feelings that they may be having, or to help them better understand what friends or family may be going through. We need to have more books that address the topic of depression or any type of deep feelings. We often think that picture books have to be cheerful and happy, but I honestly think that books like The Shadow Elephant are SO necessary and important.
For More Info
I would like to say a huge thank you to my friends at Enchanted Lion Books for sending this my way for review…and for publishing such incredible books.
The Shadow Elephant will release on September 22nd, 2020.