Many years ago, I remember being more upset than scared that this grayish-black “thing” kept following me. It did everything I did. At the time, I was probably around four or five years old. I remember lifting my leg to notice that there was then a space between this “thing” and my foot on the ground. In a very real way, it was frightening. It seemed to be attached!
Theo’s Big Scare by Rebecca J. Irias is just such a story about young Theo, a boy who thinks he sees a dark something move against the wall of his room when he climbs out of bed. He isn’t sure. When he stoops down to pick up a treasured teddy bear he focuses his eyes on the bear. But as he walks over to his dresser for a shirt, out of the corner of his eye, the dark thing appears. It is definitely there. He turns and stares directly at it!
The dark figure has no face, no hair, no color. It is spooky. What’s more, it is moving around. Theo panics. He runs out of his room only to see the big dark scary thing running along the wall with him — maybe even chasing him.
“Help, Mommy! Help!” He screams as he runs into the next room and jumps up in his mother’s arms. Even more terrified now, Theo sees the dark thing has moved behind his mother. He can see it on the wall directly behind her, and now it has two heads, not one. At first, his mother did not see anything to upset Theo. But the terrible look on his face when he points to the dark thing makes her catch on. Theo is afraid of his own shadow.
Theo’s Big Scare is a wonderfully written children’s tale to help explain to a tiny tot that there is nothing harmful about a shadow. As silly as it may seem to grownups, almost all children go through an experience like Theo until someone takes the time to explain what causes a shadow.
In this particular story, Theo’s mother uses a lamp to show him that when something or someone blocks lights rays, this is what causes a shadow. Still a bit timid about it always following him around, Theo learns how to put his hands together in different ways to make imaginary animal figures on the wall. Once he understands, he is no longer afraid.
Theo’s Big Scare with its clever illustrations on each page is a wonderful book for parents and caregivers to read to children. It is short story with just enough words on each page to hold a child’s attention.
The colorful drawings in the book need no interpretation. They are well drawn to explain precisely what is happening on each page. The huge eyes on Theo and his mother easily portray their feelings.
There are so many children’s books in stores and libraries that are completely make-believe about forest friends, talking animals, colors, numbers, letters of the alphabet, and so on. Theo’s Big Scare, while fiction, is real in this sense: it deals with an issue that can be a troubling experience for some tots. I would highly recommend reading this book again and again to children and/or grandchildren for the sheer enjoyment of its story and pictures. Hopefully, Rebecca Irias will create more book tales centered around Theo as he faces other perplexing childhood problems.