Blog Tour (Review & Author Q&A): Shadow – Lucy Christopher (Illustrated by Anastasia Suvorova)

‘Ethereal, touching and unique by design… Shadow’s symbolism of inner strength showcases the true meaning of togetherness.’

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: Shadow
Author: Lucy Christopher (@LucyCAuthor)
Illustrator: Anastastia Suvorova
Publisher: Lantana (@lantanapub)
Page count: 40
Date of publication: 7th November 2019
Series status: N/A
ISBN: 978-1911373834

Perfect for Year 2, Year 3 & and Year 4.

1. Shadow 🖤
2. Family 👩‍👧
3. Togetherness 🤝

In our old home, Ma told me there was nothing to be scared of. No monsters hiding behind doors, or in wardrobes, or under beds. She said there were no dark places at all. But in the new house, under my new bed, THAT’s where I found Shadow.


They say don’t judge a book by its cover but my goodness, I want to judge this book based on this one. Not only is it bordering on one of the most beautiful I have seen, but it’s one of the most uniquely beautiful. Unique in its own way because it doesn’t only entice you to read this story but it pulls you in because you can’t help but want this story to be told.

As the protagonist in this story – a young girl who’s left nameless throughout – describes, the book begins with a new house move, once reminiscing about their fearless feelings towards their old house. No dark places at all. But this soon changes for our main character who upon living in her new house finds a shadow, or Shadow, under her new bed in amongst the cobwebs and dust.

When the pages become somewhat more ethereal-looking rather than eerie, we realise that Shadow is more than a character, and is symbolic of the family dynamic between mother and child. A friend for our friendless character who isn’t seen by the mother but is by the child.

With their friendship developing, they strike up quite the bond between them whilst also keeping the darkness at bay. But still, it is Ma who cannot see Shadow. And sometimes, she doesn’t properly ‘see’ life for days, alluding to her state of mind. With the young girl focused on her new friendship, things take a turn for the worse when Shadow leads her into the woods and merges into the darkness with the others, leaving our already-isolated character feeling even more alone.

However when it feels like all is lost, there’s always a speck of light that floods life back into the pages of this touching tale, and thus emerging with it a small sense of hope which this story excellently delivers within it. To sum this story up in a sentence, it’s symbolism of inner strength showcases the true meaning of togetherness. One that should be used in the junior classroom as a springboard to many much-needed conversations for children.

Author Q&A: Lucy Christopher


At The Reader Teacher, for my reviews, I describe books in #3Words3Emojis.
Which 3 emojis would you choose to best describe Shadow?

1. ❄️
2. 💡
3. 👩‍👧

Which books, people, research, ideas and inspirations have helped you to write Shadow?

I think Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is an obvious inspiration. Sendak’s story is also psychological and child focused.  His exploration of anger is similar in style to my exploration of loneliness within SHADOW.

In terms of other research and inspiration, about three years ago I undertook a foundation year’s study in psychotherapy. The exploration we did during this course about the ‘shadow self’ made me wonder about a literal meaning – if we were to actually meet our shadow self, what would they look like, what might we do together?

What was the most enjoyable part of writing Shadow?

I wrote the first draft very fast, in one go, just throwing words down on the page. It was done in under an hour.

Do you remember how you felt when you saw the marvellous illustrations by Anastasia Suvorova? What do you feel they bring to the book?

Oh, I was completely blown away by them. They’re absolutely beautiful and so right. They add so much to this story. I think the colours and tones that Anastasia uses really add to the feeling of transition within the story – moving from a place of loneliness to a place of coming together / cosiness. They also add to the fairy tale / fable quality within the story. And on a very literal level, Anastasia’s addition of the ‘Shadow-cat’ at the end is a stroke of genius.

If you were to choose the character that is most like you from Shadow, who would it be and why?

It would be the protagonist. I was a child who moved house five times by the time I was as many years old (as well as moving countries three times). By then my parents had also separated, with my father moving back to Australia while my mum and I moved to live with my Grandma in Wales. I was a lonely child, without siblings or friends. When I was nine, we did it all again – moving back to Australia. It was hard to be uprooted so many times as a young child.

Reading and Writing (4)

What first attracted you to writing? Did you enjoy writing at school?

I loved writing at school – it was my favourite thing to do in lessons. I was attracted to writing from an early age. As soon as I could write, I was always writing letters. When I was in Wales, I wrote to friends back in Australia. When I was in Australia, I wrote to family in Wales. I had loads of pen-pals, sometimes I would buy notebooks and fill them with one long letter to send to my friends.

Which parts of writing do you find energise you and which parts do you find exhaust you?

Thinking of and daydreaming about new ideas is always the most exciting part of writing for me. I love the sense of possibility that a new idea brings with it – the feeling that you could go anywhere and do anything with this.  The hardest part for me is finding the courage to get to the end of the first draft, battling the self-doubt and anxiety that always arrives around the half-way mark to tell me the project isn’t working, or it’s too hard, or I don’t know how to finish it!

When you were a child, can you remember contacting authors or any of them ever visiting your school and if so, did this inspire you?

Absolutely – all the time! My contact with authors as a young person is definitely one of the reasons I became a reader and then later a writer. I wrote regularly to authors. Some of them even wrote back – I had a letter-writing friendship with one of my writing heroes, John Marsden, who I am still friends with today. John Marsden even wrote the book cover endorsement for my first novel, Stolen, when it was published in Australia.  My school was great at bringing in visiting authors and illustrators – some of my favourite times at school were when these special guests came in. I remember these visits really clearly still!

Currently, we seem to be living in a golden age of books, especially that of children’s literature. Can you recommend any other children’s books to children (and adults!) who may be interested in similar themes explored in your book or any that you would recommend?

There are so many wonderful books out there, you’re right! Well, I spoke earlier about my love for Where the Wild Things are, so I would obviously recommend that. I would also really recommend John Marsden, the author I spoke of above, particularly for his emotional and hard-hitting books for young adults (the Tomorrow When the War Began series is amazing) but also for his picture books (The Rabbits is a mature exploration of colonisation from the perspective of the colonised). My favourite picture book I have read recently is Cicada by Shaun Tan – another mature and confronting book about the loneliness of the migrant worker. On a lighter note, I loved Raine Telgemeier’s new book, Guts  – a funny and charming book about dealing with scary things.

Shadow and Teaching (3)

If you were to ‘pitch’ Shadow in a sentence for teachers to use it in their classrooms or for parents to choose to read it at home, how would you sum it up?

In a new house, a young child finds a shadow under the bed who she makes friends, and mischief, with; it’s a story about loneliness and sadness and, ultimately, of coming together.

Could you suggest ways in which Shadow could be used in the classroom for the many teachers and primary school staff that will read this and wish to use it in their schools?

I think SHADOW could be particularly useful for exploring feelings of loneliness and sadness. Teachers could explore the book through looking at its stylistic features – its illustration, setting, colours – and how these change as the story progresses.  Teachers could also ask children to think about what the shadow might mean to them – does it only come out when the child is lonely, sad? Might the shadow come back again to help comfort the child when she is lonely and sad at another time?  does the Shadow-cat mean at the end?  What would their own shadows look like if they found a literal shadow under the bed – or somewhere else – and what things would they do with them if they could get up to anything? Perhaps the children could draw or make their own shadows, and then talk about their own experiences of being lonely or sad.

There might also be some scope for talking about a relationship with a parent – possibly a single parent – and how a child might be able to help them sometimes too. How the two could comfort each other.

For those teachers reading this Q&A and would like to enquire about arranging the opportunity of a school visit from yourself, how would it be best to contact you regarding this?

I love to do school visits, and have lots of experience.  It would be best to contact me through either my website – – or my email,

Two more before you go (2)!

What has an interviewer or blogger never asked you before, that you always wished you could answer?

Tell me how riding a horse is similar to writing a story!

Finally, can you share with our readers something about yourself that they might be surprised to learn?

I can do some pretty fantastic expressions of a kookaburra, a crying baby, and a dolphin!

One last one… (1)!

Do you have a question you would like to ask the readers of The Reader Teacher?

Can I ask two? 🙂

  • What difficult topics would you like to see being explored in a picture book?
  • Do you use picture books in teaching / reading with older children, too?

Shadow is available in good UK, US, Canadian and Australian bookshops or you can purchase it from Lantana’s website here:

For every book purchased from our website, Lantana Publishing will donate a book to children’s hospitals in the UK.

Big thanks to Lucy and all the team at Lantana for inviting me to be a part of the Shadow blog tour and for sending me an advance copy.

Extra thanks to Lucy for her brilliant answers to my questions!

Mr E

Shadow - Blog Tour graphic.png

Be sure to check out the rest of the Shadow blog tour for more exclusive content & reviews from these brilliant book bloggers!

Blog Tour: Review: You’re Safe with Me – Chitra Soundar (Illustrated by Poonam Mistry) & Guest Post – Chitra Soundar

You're Safe full cover

‘Words and illustrations that are repetitively rich in prose, palette and pattern make this not only a soothing story but also a spectacle for the senses… it’s like mindfulness for younger readers meets The Jungle Book.’

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Title: You’re Safe with Me
Author: Chitra Soundar (@csoundar)
Illustrator: Poonam Mistry (@pmistryartist)
Publisher: Lantana Publishing (@lantanapub)
Page count: 32
Date of publication: 3rd May 2018
Series status: N/A
ISBN: 978-1911373292

Perfect for Reception, Year 1, Year 2 & Year 3.

1. Soothing 😊
2. Striking 😍
3. Spectacle 🌄

When the moon rises high and the stars twinkle, it is bedtime for the baby animals of the Indian forest. But tonight, when the skies turn dark and the night grows stormy, the little ones can’t sleep. SWISH-SWISH! CRACK-TRACK! FLASH-SNAP! goes the storm. Only Mama Elephant with her words of wisdom can reassure them. “You’re safe with me.”

The first line(s):

When the moon rose high and the stars twinkled, it was bedtime for baby animals. But that night, when the skies turned dark and the night grew stormy, the little ones couldn’t sleep.


Youre-Safe-with-Me-promo-spread-1-e1507810611364-2The dark; the crack of a thunderstorm; the flash of lightning, the gust of the wind and the rush of the river will never be seen in the same way again after reading You’re Safe With Me. As the animals settle down for bedtime, the little ones find they cannot get off to sleep due to the strange noises around them and so it is only the words of wisdom whispered from Mama Elephant that can allay their deepest fears and hopefully help them to feel worry-free and drifting off in to the land of dreams.

The jungle landscape is so beautifully imagined through Poonam’s authentic, striking and tribal-traditional inspired illustrations that it makes this a complete spectacle for the senses. Weaved in so wonderfully and distinctively amongst Chitra’s words, they help to ensure it becomes a story that will stay long in the minds of its readers. Repetitively rich in prose, palette and pattern whilst echoing all the natural, earthy sounds and sights of the Indian forest, it’s like mindfulness for younger readers meets The Jungle Book.

Youre-Safe-With-Me-promo-spread-3-e1507810659146-2With inclusions of animals that young children will be both familiar and unfamiliar with (a little monkey, a tiger cub, a loris and even a pangolin to name a few!) it’s the perfect introduction to the marvellously diverse wildlife that inhabits the tops of the trees and the floors of the forest.

Full of splendour, this is really a book that offers more with every turn of the page. Memories will no doubt be made reading this book; making this most definitely a story to share. A book that will captivate, comfort and calm children enough to send them soundly to sleep, in the best possible way and the way in which it was originally desired!

As if written as an ode to mother nature and seemingly alluding to one of life’s greatest morals and messages: knowledge is power. With a more reasoned understanding of the unknown, a different perspective can be thought about things. If children can choose to be passionately curious about the world around them rather than approach it with trepidation, the sense of fear becomes almost fought off and faced with a feeling of familiarity and fascination and ultimately fear becomes fearless.

Lantana should be really proud of this book belonging to their catalogue and as such, they are really making themselves one of the publishers to watch in 2018.


‘Words and illustrations that are repetitively rich in prose, palette and pattern make this not only a soothing story but also a spectacle for the senses… it’s like mindfulness for younger readers meets The Jungle Book.’

Big thanks to Katrina at Lantana Publishing for sending me a copy of this beautiful book and HUGE thanks to Chitra for inviting me to take part in her You’re Safe with Me blog tour!

You’re Safe with Me is available to order online or from any good bookshop.

Mr E


Today I am also delighted to welcome author of You’re Safe With MeChitra Soundar to The Reader Teacher. Here, she shares with The Reader Teacher readers about exploring fear, facing the unknown and how this has been used to inspire the creation of You’re Safe With Me!

We all fear things. As teachers, parents and citizens of this world, we fear natural disasters, the neighbour’s annual summer barbecue and maybe the next Ofsted visit.

Often fear comes from the anticipation of facing the unknown. The creaking door is terrifying until you see who’s visiting. We anticipate and worry about things that might harm us because it’s unfamiliar and unknown to us.

A child that’s still discovering the world cannot and should not live in this fear. Because pretty much everything around him or her is new, unfamiliar and the unknown. Their fear comes from what they are often told rather than what they have learnt first-hand. “Don’t touch the fire, it will burn your fingers.”  “Don’t walk backwards on an escalator, it terrifies me.”

As a 6 year old I’ve had first hand experiences of the thunderstorms and floods. Until I understood the fisherman’s forecast on the radio and figured out what a tropical storm was, it terrified me at night. It’s relentless downpour, the water-clogged streets, the power-cuts and the winds that pulled down trees – I feared the storms until I understood them.

As a storyteller, I realised that this fear of the unknown can only be tackled by knowledge. Understanding and interpreting the unfamiliar things makes us accept and respect the things we fear.

You’re Safe With Me is a story that shows you another perspective of a natural force that seems destructive. Are thunderstorms destructive or are they just a natural phenomenon? Can we live without rain and wind? Can we live without the rivers that swell in the floods? Can we avoid the lightning flashes?

So I decided to explain them and reinterpret them. A lightning shattering into stars might not be a scientific fact. But in my imagination that’s what happens. I can hear the groan of the clouds as she carries water and I thank the winds that bring seeds from faraway lands.

My hope is that children enjoy the story and revel in the fabulous illustrations. Then perhaps they would attempt to interpret things they fear using their imagination. How about the dark? What about the volcanoes? Are they afraid of a blizzard? Can they explain how these came to be? Or what they become after they have ravaged the land?Their active imaginations will not only find compassion for the elements they fear, but also find poetry in those moments. And there, your job as a teacher is done. You’ve shown them the way and they’d embrace the journey into life with imagination and empathy.

Chitra Soundar, author of You’re Safe with Me


Chitra Soundar is an Indian-born British writer and storyteller. She is inspired by the rich epics and folktales of India, its diverse culture and its natural beauty. She has over 30 books in print worldwide and has been published by Otter-Barry Books, Walker Books and Red Robin Books.

You're Safe With Me blog tour announcement

Blog Tour: Review: Nimesh the Adventurer – Ranjit Singh (Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini)

‘Turning the ordinary in to the extraordinary… this book is a true visual delight that is sure to ignite the imaginations of both young and old taking them on a journey of their mind’s eye where there’s no end to the possibilities’.

PNG image-8AB6D4A02AD3-1 2

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Title: Nimesh the Adventurer
Author: Ranjit Singh (@RanjittheAuthor)
Illustrator: Mehrdokht Amini (Website)
Publisher: Lantana Publishing (@lantanapub)
Page count: 32
Date of publication: 5th April 2018
Series status: N/A
ISBN: 978-1911373247

Perfect for Reception, Year 1, Year 2 & Year 3.

1. Imaginative 💭
2. Extraordinary 😃
3. Heartening 💖

Nimesh is walking home from school.
Except…there happens to be a shark in the corridor.
And a dragon in the library!
And why would crossing the road lead to the North Pole?
In this fun-filled adventure, Nimesh is just walking from school… isn’t he?

The first line(s):

Hello Nimesh, is school over?
School? My friend, this is not a school! It’s an ancient cave, and shhhh!
Or you’ll wake…

Nimesh-the-Adventurer-spread-1Review: Join Nimesh on his otherwise ordinary walk home from school that soon becomes an astonishing adventure of amazement. Turning pretty ordinary objects, people and places in to the magnificent, the wonderful and the extraordinary, Nimesh becomes the adventurer he so wants to be.

To Nimesh, the world turns into the biggest blank canvas to his limitless imagination where dreaming can take him absolutely anywhere he wants to go.

It is a true visual delight that combines Mehrdokht’s illustrations and collage with Ranjit’s words in a way that is sure to ignite the imaginations of young and old and take them on a journey of their mind’s eye where there’s no end to the possibilities.

Nimesh-the-Adventurer-review-copy-8Recently, I attended an event where I had the pleasure of hearing triple laureates, Lauren Child (Waterstones’ UK Children’s Laureate); Casia William (Bardd Plant Cymru/Welsh-language Children’s Laureate) and Sophie McKeand (Young People’s Laureate of Wales) speak about inspiring a love of literature amongst children with a renewed sense of focus upon creativity and a time to dream.

Lauren referenced inspiration coming – as lots and lots of tiny fragments – from everywhere and everyone and that having that time to dream creatively makes those fragments come together and begin to collide, in her case to form the basis for a story. Otherwise those fragments and ideas lay dormant; untouched and unfulfilled. This is another reason why books like Nimesh the Adventurer that encourage imaginative and creative thinking are very much-needed, and, above all, so important to society.

I can really imagine children in class and at home losing themselves deep within these pages; allowing their imaginations to soar and dreaming big. It is the perfect story to share before home time, as every child will be wanting to recreate their own adventures on their way home after reading this. It will also take adult readers back to a carefree time where dreaming big was a natural, normal and daily occurrence and remind them that it so should still be. This would make a very worthy addition to any classroom or school library really encapsulating the power of awe, excitement and wonder all rolled in to one.

Imagination and curiosity is a fragile thing and should be nurtured, encouraged and inspired at each and every opportunity. So next time you’re out and about, ask your children in class and at home what do they see when they look at a classroom? A corridor? A road? A street? A park? A city? Or a line of trees? and see if they see things a little differently, like Nimesh, too! If they don’t, here’s your chance to use this book to open up a land of new opportunity to them!

With more books like this absolute gem to come, Lantana Publishing are certainly a publisher to watch as their catalogue grows and grows.

‘Turning the ordinary in to the extraordinary… this book is a true visual delight that is sure to ignite the imaginations of both young and old taking them on a journey of their mind’s eye where there’s no end to the possibilities’.

Big thanks to Katrina at Lantana Publishing for sending me a copy of this beautiful book and inviting me to take part in Nimesh the Adventurer’s blog tour!

You can imagine it because Nimesh the Adventurer is out today and available to order online or from any good bookshop.

Mr E