Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Nightshadows-f_feature
Nightshadows

Illustrated by Ed Young

The third collaboration between Young and DaCosta tells the story of a lonely girl who finds an unlikely friend in her elderly neighbor.

Each night kids have been creeping around and spray painting houses in Tasha's neighborhood. Two days in a row, her neighbor Mrs. Lucy awakes to find graffiti outside her home. Tasha helps her paint over it. They discover that they are alike, except for their age, and become inseparable. But who keeps defacing Mrs. Lucy's house? Ed Young's inimitable cut-out art sensitively conveys the characters' emotions and the drama of the story: as the truth is discovered, the houses become multicolored, but the characters remain faceless. Then when the miscreants are revealed, Tasha's and Mrs. Lucy's faces become visible. A subtle expression of recognition on both... This nuanced story shows young readers that honesty and respect are the most important elements for friendship. With Night Shadows, Caldecott Medal-winner Ed Young's oneiric illustrations and Barbara DaCosta's introspective narrative jointly reproduce the intensity with which a child experiences solitude and companionship.

Nightshadows-f_feature
Nightshadows

Buying options

“In Barbara DaCosta's story, friendship and forgiveness emerge from the shadows to shine as warmly as Ed Young's art. I found myself deeply touched by this tender, honest story, and mesmerized by the jaggedly beautiful, moody illustrations. This book is a gift for anyone, child or adult, who has ever needed a true friend in a rough world.”

“Nocturnal shadows are what fall on an old woman’s garage wall as kids repeatedly spray it with graffiti. On the first evening, Mrs. Lucy’s body also casts an imposing shadow in her doorway’s yellow light as the children escape into the blue darkness. The dramatic, diagonal figure recalls Young’s rendering of the mother catching her son in DaCosta’s Nighttime Ninja (2012). The next day, a group of boys—silhouetted as a unit—exiles a younger sister as they prepare to play baseball. Tasha encounters Mrs. Lucy painting over the words (which readers never see). The girl offers to help on this day and the next, milk and cookies are her compensation. Skin tone is created with brown paper. The woman’s sumptuous robe is fashioned from crinkled gold paper, overlaid with soft blue and lacy green fibers; the girl’s shirt is a marbleized magenta and blue pattern. On the third night, the victim hides in the lilac bushes and is shocked that this time the sole vandal is Tasha. Her plaintive explanation: “I just—I just wanted to come over again.” Speechless, the woman allows compassion to prevail, promising they have a lot of work to do—together. The rich, restrained text and visually exciting collages build suspense and surprise in tandem. Readers will turn back, now detecting subtle clues... Conversations about motivations and actions will abound as children absorb the impact of grace.

Barbara DaCosta writes about the mysterious, touching, fun, and quirky things in life. In addition to Night Shadows, she and artist Ed Young collaborated on Nighttime Ninja (Children's Choice Award) and Mighty Moby (Minnesota Book Award finalist). She lives in Minnesota.