The Shadow Elephant by Nadine Robert

Cover image for The Shadow Elephant

The Shadow Elephant by Nadine Robert, illustrated by Valerio Vidali (9781592703128)

The elephant was staying in the shadows, not speaking or engaging with anyone. The other animals decide to try to cheer him up. First, the monkey told the funniest joke he knew, but the elephant didn’t even smile. The ostrich sisters did a dance, but elephant didn’t even move. The crocodile brought him a treat of acacia leaves, but the elephant just sighed. Then a small white mouse came up out of breath and asked to rest near the elephant. The elephant asked if the mouse was there to tell a story, but she just wanted to rest. So the two of them sat quietly together. The mouse eventually shared part of her story, making the elephant cry. The mouse cried too. Finally, when they were done crying, the elephant felt lighter and was able to stand up. The two headed off to find the mouse’s home together.

Translated from the French, this picture book about emotions and sadness shows how separate these blue emotions can make us feel. The elephant remains in the shadows, silent and sad, not even able to weep. Then the smallest of creatures with the simplest of gestures shows empathy. It’s that shared experience, the silence together, the moments taken, not to distract but to be with one another. The power of that, shown in such simple ways, resonates throughout the book.

The illustrations are full of contrasts. The pages with the elephant glow with blues and lurk with dark shadows. The elephant is almost a mountain at night, large and unmoving. The other animals are bright and colorful, the sky a beaming blue and the ground a neon yellow-green. The mouse arrives as the sun is lowering in the sky, creating a synergy between her side of the page and the elephant’s that shows their growing connection as well.

A deep look at sadness and the power of empathy to overcome it. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Enchanted Lion.

2020 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Finalists

The lists of the 2020 finalists for the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award have been announced. The awards highlight “excellent children’s books that can deepen understanding of peace and justice.” This marks the first time they have ever released the finalist titles that are under consideration for the award. The winning books will be announced on January 15, 2021. Here are the two lists of finalists:


Black Is a Rainbow Color.  Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes. 

The Day Saida Arrived.   Susana Gomez Redondo, illustrated by Sonja Wimmer, translated by Lawrence Schimel.

Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon.   Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Laura Freeman.

Freedom Soup.   Tami Charles, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara.  

Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea.   Meena Harris, illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez.    

Lizzie Demands a Seat.   Beth Anderson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. 

Mother Jones and Her Army of Mill Children.   Jonah Winter, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed The Ocean’s Biggest Secret. Jess Keating, illustrated by Katie Hickey.  

The Only Woman in the Photo: Francis Perkins & Her New Deal for America.   Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Alexandra Bye. 

Shirley Chisolm Is a Verb.  Veronica Chambers, illustrated by Rachelle Baker.  

The Teacher’s March: How Selma’s Teachers Changed History.   Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, illustrated by Charly Palmer.  

We Are Water Protectors.   Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade.  


Blackbird Girls.   Anne Blankman.  

Brave. Black. First.   Cheryl Willis Hudson, illustrations by Erin K. Robinson.  

Brother’s Keeper.   Julie Lee.  

Finish the Fight.   Veronica Chambers and the staff of the New York Times.  

Fighting Words.   Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  

King and the Dragonflies.   Kacen Callender. 

Land of the Cranes.   Aida Salazar.  

Rick.   Alex Gino.  

Show Me a Sign.   Ann Clare LeZotte.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You.    Jason Reynolds,  Ibram X. Kendi.  

The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love & Truth.   Edited by Wade Hudson & Cheryl Willis Hudson.  

This Book is Antiracist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work.   Tiffany Jewell, illustrated by Aurelia Durand.  

When Stars Are Scattered.   Victoria Jamieson, Omar Mohamed. 

A Wish in the Dark.   Christina Soontornvat.  

Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice.   Mahogany L. Browne with Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III.