Gwen Strauss

The Night Shimmy

Kindergarten-Grade 2 -- Until he meets Marcia in the park, Eric doesn't speak -- his secret friend, the Night Shimmy (actually Eric in a mask and cape), does all his talking for him. When she accepts him and doesn't try to make him talk, he helps her fly her parrot kite. That night, instead of being guarded by the Night Shimmy, he is watched over by a giant parrot, and soon he finds the strength to be himself. The writing gives the definite impression of having been carefully constructed in layers of meaning, as do Browne's illustrations. Subtle images -- a serpent in the apple tree, eyes in the wallpaper -- grab readers and lead them to look for more levels of interpretation. But although the paintings are beautifully rendered and fascinating to pore over, the text has an inexplicably menacing tone, with a seemingly disturbed child as its main character. The Night Shimmy is more than a story about an invisible friend; it's a book about acceptance, strength, friendship, and more, which is all well and good -- but in this particular case, it's really one of an increasing number of picture books for adults.
--Christine A. Moesch, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Buffalo, NY

Selected Works

Juvenile Nonfiction Ages 7-10, Grades 2-5
The True Story of a young Holocaust survivor
Children's picture book
In the early 1950s, newly built interstate highways invited Americans to travel by automobile, but the open road wasn't so open for African-Americans, especially in the South.
Until he meets Marcia, Eric doesn't speak -- the Night Shimmy does all the talking.
Poetry
Strauss explores the theme of metamorphosis in fairy tales in this collection of poetry.
a series of poems in the form of a sonnet garland
Novel
Kay koule twompe soley men li pa twompe lapli. A leaky house can fool the sun, but it can't fool the rain. --Haitian Proverb
The adventure story of a young couple who sail to the Yucatan

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