“Shadowshine: An Animal Adventure” by Johnny Armstrong

SHADOWSHINE: AN ANIMAL ADVENTURE
Johnny Armstrong
Guernica World Editions (2019)
ISBN 9781771834605
Reviewed by Rachel Dehning for Reader Views (11/19)

“Shadowshine: An Animal Adventure” by Johnny Armstrong centers around Zak, a philosophical poet-possum. Zak is usually seen with his friend Sena, a bobcat who is wise like Zak. Growing up, Zak was raised by rodents, which has resulted in him now being the only bilingual member in their community of forest-dwellers, bestowing on him extra responsibilities and pressure among his peers. Word has gotten out that the foreign beings known as the “sans-pelage” have been committing crimes of heat toward the animals forest homes, with the malicious Mungo being the main culprit. It’s only a matter of time before their dastardly deeds reach to Zak’s neck of the woods, so Zak volunteers to head out of his comforting homeland to the north to seek out help from legends and strangers. Zak will face many perils on his quest, problems dealing with hunger and different situations that will test his ability to survive, but if he’s successful, it will mean everything to the animals. With the help of The Architect and his friend Elbon the skunk, maybe this trip won’t be “Inconceivable!”

Armstrong, a retired medical doctor and conservationist, has written a book very much in favor of forest preservation and human’s involvement in deforestation, and has compared it to how it affects the animals living there. To present all of this information in an entertaining way, he has created an animated story with animals as the characters, but the story isn’t one that is necessarily recommended for children to read as the content reads at a more advanced level than a child would normally read or understand. Plus, some references in the story are geared toward the evolution of animals (depending on what you believe on that topic). “Shadowshine” is worth the read, especially if you are a fan of conservation and heroes on quests to save their homelands.

I believe that Armstrong was successful in getting his conservative point across about caring for animals in the forest, mostly because they aren’t rational thinkers like us humans, so they don’t even have the option of taking away our homeland, like we do to theirs. The style of writing for this story was done well, but personally for me, there were parts in the story that took too long to make sense or to keep my attention. That being said, I believe in the purpose of this book and wish to see everyone/thing living in harmony and adding a quest from a possum as the storyline makes it more interesting overall. In conclusion, “Shadowshine: An Animal Adventure” by Johnny Armstrong is a well-written book that makes the readers think about what they are reading, and hopefully be able to apply it to their daily lives. 

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