The Queen’s Shadow: A Story About How Animals See by Cybèle Young tells of the mysterious disappearance of the queen’s shadow at the Queen’s Ball, a party attended by a miscellaneous collection of animals. As each animal in turn is suspected of the theft, Young’s text and illustrations combine to demonstrate how the different animals see.
Each animal’s protestation of innocence reveals how it sees the world in clear text as the goat points out that he could not look at the queen because she was in front of him and he cannot see in front, or the shark notes that he cannot see color. Accusations and responses often include a high level of alliteration.
The best part of The Queen’s Shadow are the illustrations. They provide a very clear, visual representation of each animal’s view of the world. The reader can see the pieces of the ballroom visible to the goat and what gets left out because he does not see straight ahead, or can view the heatmap the snake sees. Beyond that, they are lovely, whimsical portraits of an animal ballroom, with the ballroom kept largely in textured black-and-white and the animals standing out in bright colors, except when the animals’ vision is being investigated and the area color and contrast are changed to reflect their points of view.
It is somewhat jarring in the middle of this fanciful tale of a ballroom wherein a goat and an octopus can hobnob to have each part of the story followed by a brief, dry scientific description of the animal in question’s vision. The wording here is that of a standard encyclopedia-type entry and the effect of bringing the story to a jarring halt and, by bringing in the strict scientific accuracy in tone, taking the tale out of fancy to the realm of reality, where the question of why, exactly, an octopus is on dry land and eating cake becomes relevant.
Overall, The Queen’s Shadow is a solid introduction to the different ways animals see with a slight mystery to keep the story joined and high-quality illustrations that make the author’s point clear.
The Queen’s Shadow comes out March 1, 2015.
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: Mar 1 2015