Monday, August 28, 2017

ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL by Leah Henderson

Welcome to another Diversity Monday.



One Shadow on the Wall by Leah Henderson (June 2017, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 438 pages, for ages 8 to 12)

Synopsis (from the publisher): Eleven-year-old Mor was used to hearing his father’s voice, even if no one else could since his father’s death. It was comforting. It was also a reminder that Mor had made a promise to his father before he passed: keep your sisters safe. Keep the family together. But almost as soon as they are orphaned, that promise seems impossible to keep. With an aunt from the big city ready to separate him and his sisters as soon as she arrives, and a gang of boys from a nearby village wanting everything he has—including his spirit—Mor is tested in ways he never imagined. With only the hot summer months to prove himself, Mor must face a choice. Does he listen to his father and keep his heart true, but risk breaking his promise through failure? Or is it easier to just join the Danka Boys, whom in all their maliciousness are at least loyal to their own?

Why I recommend it: I had the honor of meeting and getting to know Leah when I attended the first Novels in Verse workshop at Highlights in May 2016. Note, though, that this is not a novel in verse. This book was already in the works before I met her. What I remember most about Leah from that magical week is her vibrant, infectious laughter. She's also a world traveler, and her travels inspire her stories.


Leah Henderson, from her website

But even if I didn't know Leah, I'd still highly recommend this heartwarming and beautifully-crafted coming of age tale. Yes, it sounds long for MG, but Mor's story will soak into you like the hot Senegalese sun and you'll finish reading it before you want to let go. Mor and the other characters are fully fleshed out, the plot abounds with twists and turns, and the language is exquisite. One Shadow on the Wall is a stunning debut and I can't wait to see what Leah Henderson writes next.

Favorite lines: "But the thought would not rest, like an overturned beetle trying to right itself. It kicked and kicked at Mor's brain." (from p. 95)

Bonus:  Besides being the kind of novel that deserves to win awards, this book is an excellent choice for libraries and classrooms. I learned a great deal about the culture, language, and food of Senegal. But more importantly, I got to know and understand one peace-loving Muslim family, who vow to stay together, no matter what.


Learn more about Leah Henderson on her website

Follow Leah on Twitter






22 comments:

  1. I love your favorite line. It makes me want to carve out time now to read this book. Thanks for telling me about it.

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    1. There are quite a few similarly amazing metaphors and similes throughout the book, Rosi. They're all related to the Senegal setting. It's impressive writing.

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  2. I really like the cover and after reading your review, I now want to find this one! Thanks for the heads up!

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    1. Isn't that a gorgeous cover, Andrea? Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. I love books set in other countries and featuring other cultures, and am definitely going to search for this one! #WeNeedDiverseBooks

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    1. We definitely need more books like these, Michael.

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  4. This sounds fascinating. I love when I can learn about other cultures and places when I read. Thanks for introducing us to Leah and One Shadow on the Wall.
    ~Jess

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  5. I hadn't heard of this one so thanks for featuring. The setting and characters won me over.

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    1. It's definitely worth reading, Greg. Happy Labor Day!

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  6. My kind of story! Have not heard about this book and will definitely check it out! It is such an important story to tell!

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    1. Exactly, Patricia! Such a gem of a story and so needed right now.

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  7. This book must find its way into my hands ASAP! Not only is the cover way cool, and the story interesting, but anyone who compares a restless thought to a beetle kicking to right itself is on my awesome author-to-read list. Thanks for Sharing.

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    1. You're welcome, Sue. Glad you liked that line!

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  8. I have this to read and I am really looking forward to it. So glad to know you like it, and I'm sure I will also.

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  9. I am so pleased to be reminded of this talented author & this title.
    Knowing her great skill, it's wonderful there will be many more to note.
    Must have!

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    1. Yes! You must read this, Jan. Can't wait to see what kind of novel in verse Leah comes up with.

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  10. I've been really excited about this one. Glad you liked it so much.

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    1. It's a great book to get excited about, Natalie!

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  11. I love books set in Africa, and this one sounds amazing! Thanks for featuring these diverse books, Joanne. The author sounds like a lovely person--how fortunate that you got to meet her.

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    1. More diverse books to come, Jenni! And yes, it was a pleasure to meet Leah.

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YAY for comments! I read and appreciate each one and I always try to answer. All opinions welcome. Let's have a conversation.