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Children's Fiction Emotions & Feelings

The Shadow Elephant

by (author) Nadine Robert

illustrated by Valerio Vidali

Enchanted Lion Books
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
Emotions & Feelings
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 8
  • Grade: p to 3


A gentle story about sadness showing that sometimes all you need to feel better is the openness of someone who accepts you as you are.


A Financial Times Best Children’s Book of 2021


This is a subtle story about an elephant who is feeling sorrowful, and nothing seems to interest him or lift his spirits. Illustrated with a striking contrast between shadow and light, the moody blue elephant appears to live in a different world from his colorful savanna friends. Empathy is a tricky emotion for children and adults alike to grasp, but The Shadow Elephant manages to walk the line between sadness, understanding, and emotional connection. Here we witness, in a story that unfolds at a natural, gentle pace, that it’s okay to be sad and to show it, and that this sorrow is not necessarily a problem to be fixed, but is a feeling to acknowledge without judgement. This simple act of acceptance and validating another creature's feelings is subtle, yet, it is an essential step to true empathy.

About the authors


  • Winner, A Financial Times Best Children's Book of 2021

Contributor Notes

Nadine Robert is a Canadian author and publisher. She began her career as a video game designer and director of animated films. Her first picture book, Joseph Fipps" (Enchanted Lion) received a STARRED review from Publishers Weekly. Cofounder of publishing house Comme des geants, she has always had a strong passion for children's illustrated books. She holds degrees in Education and Literature and she has translated a few picture books to French. She lives in Montreal Canada with herfamily. Valerio Vidali is an Italian illustrator and picture book author, whose work has received numerous recognitions. His book The Forest (Enchanted Lion, 2018) was a New York Time's Best Illustrated book of 2018, as was his book Jemmy Button, in 2013. His work has also received the Grand Prix of ILUSTRARTE, the International Biennal of Illustration; the CJ Picture Book Award; as well as honors from the American Society of Illustrators and the Bologna Children's Book Fair. His latest book Hundred (Kein & Aber 2018) is currently nominated for the German Children's Literature Award. Valerio currently lives and works in Porto, Portugal."

Editorial Reviews

It is a human impulse, this urge to shoo the sadness away. It is also dehumanizing, for only when we let the blues rush in with their full intensity do we become fully alive and awake to the dazzling spectrum of feeling that makes life worth living. That is what Canadian author Nadine Robert and Italian artist Valerio Vidali explore with great subtlety and tenderness in The Shadow Elephant. -Brain Pickings

A Financial Times Best Children’s Book of 2021: “This picture book about sadness features an elephant who is blue both literally and figuratively. The contrast between him and his happier animal friends comes through in both the understated text and the richly colored images. Sorrow, we learn, can’t always be remedied but can be understood.” —Financial Times

A deep look at sadness and the power of empathy to overcome it. -Waking Brain Cells

Simple, stylistic art provides the background for this elegantly empathic tale. -Publishers Weekly

The book’s uncluttered compositions with tightly framed perspectives and Vidali’s sure lines and simple shapes reduce the dramatic action to its essentials. The palette, dominated by velvety, richly colored blues, heightens the book’s emotional impact, and the beguiling use of light and shadow establishes a wistful, pensive mood. The story, including its evocative title, can serve as an effective conversation starter on topics such as compassion, melancholy, and what it means to be a friend.

A deeply felt, truly empathetic story about the value of sharing burdens with others. -Kirkus

Other titles by Nadine Robert

Other titles by Valerio Vidali