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Hortense and the Shadow, by Natalia and Lauren O’Hara

Hortense and the Shadow is the debut picture book by sisters Natalia and Lauren O’Hara. Older sister Natalia writes and Lauren, who is three years younger, illustrates. The two grew up in the north of England and their love of sharing stories dates from their childhood when Natalia, who is dyslexic, struggled at school and finally learned to read by reading aloud to her younger sister. Natalia then went on to read English at Oxford and Cambridge while her younger sister went on to study illustration and fine arts. They’ve joined forces for the first time in this beautiful contemporary fairytale which draws on the classic picture books and fables the sisters loved as children. Such a sweet story — you almost know the book will be good before you open it up!


The story follows Hortense, a small girl who lives in a big wood. She is kind and brave and clever, but… she hates her shadow. It follows her everywhere, and every time night falls, it grows tall and dark and crooked. Hortense decides her shadow must go! But then later, alone in the snowy woods, she discovers that a girl without a shadow is far smaller and she realises she needs her shadow after all. The story ends with an empowering message of girl power when Hortense’s shadow saves her from bandits.

With a strong female protagonist and an empowering message, this is a wonderful new fairytale perfect for little girls (and boys too, for that matter).

And I didn’t even mention the beautiful illustrations! You can see from the pictures that no words are needed. : )

A wonderful wintery story, perfect for this time of year. Available from all good bookstores and online at Amazon (UK and US) and Booktopia here in Australia.

Courtney x


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