Picture Book Reviews

Fear can be misplaced – Hortense and the Shadow


A charming story which shows how fear can be misplaced, set in a Winter Wonderland.

Hortense hates her shadow. It chases her, and makes itself scarily tall. One day, it trips her up, and Hortense decides to act. I love the language – Hortense lives in the middle of a ‘wolfish wood’, for example. The animal references form a sense of magic. A raven cries as Hortense runs from her shadow. This makes the separation more believable.

hortense 2The tone and subtle shade of the pictures is divine. I love how trees and animals border the white snow. The closeness of the plants hints at things hiding in the woods, and forms a hide-and-seek game with the red-hatted bandit, who reappears in the early pages.

Hortense is confronted by the bandits. Readers can compare this with the earlier situation of being afraid of Shadow, and discuss whether Hortense was right. Should we allow fear of smaller things to take over? What is the purpose of fear? Why do we feel it, and how can we keep it under control? It would be a great opportunity to discuss with children how fear can alert us to something wrong, and why we should always talk to grown-ups if we are afraid.

A lovely addition for any bookshelf, I love the style of artwork, and look forward to more from this talented duo.

(NB – Images Cropped)

Hortense and the Shadow by Natalia and Lauren O’Hara

Ladybird Books (Penguin Random House)

5th October 2017


6 thoughts on “Fear can be misplaced – Hortense and the Shadow

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