ISBN 0679832556 - This book strikes me very much as one of those that would always be followed by a quiz with a lot of "What do you think..." questions. There's a great deal unanswered, but it's still a touching story.
Audrey's mother has died and, for a few days, things were strange. Strangers still, for Audrey, is that the rest of the world has begun to act normal again - when she knows that the normal she's had all her life will never come again. Feeling guilty for wishing her mother dead, unable to relate to her father and just beginning to let go of the imaginary world of her childhood, Audrey is lonely. She walks near the railroad tracks one day and meets a dog that she calls Shadows.
Shadows is a beautiful dog who seems to like her as much as she needs him. The two walk and play, and Shadows listens while Audrey talks. Always remaining just out of her reach, Shadows offers her comfort and an outlet for her grief and guilt that she doesn't have at home right now. When Audrey decides to find out more about this dog, and who his owners might be, she stumbles upon a mystery that she feels compelled to solve. Is he real? Is she imagining him? Or is the answer more simple than that - is he a ghost?
Audrey's non-relationship with her father is a glaring issue, as is her guilt over wishing her mother dead, both of which top the list of "What do you think..." questions that I can almost imagine facing. This is a book that I'm truly shocked to see ranked in the 5-million range on Amazon. Before each chapter is a beautiful pencil-sketch illustration from Dave Henderson which really add a superb finishing touch to the tale.
This is one of my favourite children's books ever, even though, now that I'm an adult, there are some plot problems that bother me. Nine-year-old Audrey has recently lost her mother to cancer when she meets a beautiful stray collie. She names him Shadows, but he refuses to play with her if she's not alone. The story of Shadows' origins, and how he helps Audrey begin to come to terms with her mother's death, is poignant and just ethereal enough to delight readers of ghost stories.
Now that I'm 23, not five, the resolution of the book - or rather, the lack thereof - bothers me, but the writing is truly beautiful.
He's a collie-the most beautiful collie Audrey has ever seen. His coat is silver blue, flecked with black, and he's looking straight at her.
Where has he come from? He won't let her touch him - yet he stays close to her. He seems to understand how much she needs and love him.
Audrey wants to find out the truth about Shadows-but if she does-will she lose him forever?