March 25, 2020

Little Cheetah's Shadow

Written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc
Princeton Architectural Press
30 pp.
Ages 3-7
April 2020

For most of us, our shadow is just something that follows us around when it is sunny and invisible when in the dark. For others, their shadow is something much more. It could be a companion, a sibling, a partner and someone that makes them better than when alone. These shadows, when absent, are truly missed. It's no wonder Little Cheetah is keenly aware when his shadow is not with him.

From Little Cheetah's Shadow by Marianne Dubuc
When Little Cheetah's shadow goes missing, he finds him saddened and sitting in a tree. When asked why he ran away, Little Shadow explains that Little Cheetah always gets to go first and always chooses where they go and then, to add insult to injury, Little Shadow's tail always catches in the door after they leave a shop.

From Little Cheetah's Shadow by Marianne Dubuc
Little Cheetah vows to change things and experiences what it has been like being Little Shadow, including his shadow's reluctance to enter the dark where he disappears. With a flashlight and sticking together, they are able to face the dark. Together they are better.

From Little Cheetah's Shadow by Marianne Dubuc
I'm always charmed by Marianne Dubuc's stories and her artwork. Though her characters are often animals such as cats or mice or lions and birds, she seems to see the world as young children might. In Little Cheetah's Shadow, the characters may be cheetahs but they are children at heart, children who aren't aware of how others perceive their actions or that their actions may actually be unintentionally harmful. Given an opportunity to show empathy and do what's right, Little Cheetah is happy to do so, learning first from Little Shadow's perspective before helping develop solutions that can work for them both.

Using pencil crayons and watercolours, Marianne Dubuc gives us a child-like glimpse at Little Cheetah and Little Shadow's world. The house is homey with its curtains, plants and furnishings, the town and its inhabitants adorable–bunny dad strolling with baby in a pram, a frog tipping his hat in greeting, and an armadillo going shopping–and the darkness oppressive without a light. It feels like a microcosm in which each part is important and contributes to the whole. Part of the wholeness is Little Shadow in Little Cheetah's life. With an awareness of Little Shadow and his perspective, Little Cheetah can ensure that his companion will always be by his side and not obscured in the darkness.
From Little Cheetah's Shadow by Marianne Dubuc

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