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Shadow Baby

3.41  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,221 Ratings  ·  170 Reviews
Clara first spies him through the crack in the stained-glass window of her church, lighting a string of handmade lanterns in the Adirondack woods. A lone old man, Georg Kominsky moves stealthily among the shadow world of his hanging, glittering creations.

In Alison McGhee's stunning novel Shadow Baby, eleven-year-old Clara is struggling to find the truth about her missing f
ebook, 256 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Crown (first published 2000)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,052)
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Nicole Peoples
Apr 24, 2007 Nicole Peoples rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hmm... younger kids
#1. I suck at writing reviews of. . . anything and this is my first review of a book on here.
Shadow Baby is not long, but it took me longer to read than almost any book I've ever read. The book is narrated by Clara Winter, a girl of 11 or so. Frankly, it was hard reading a naive girls account of self exploration. She is an unreliable narrator and she knows it. It was hard for me to force my way through her multiple fictitious realities, her diatribes on why she likes certain words, and the crux
Sep 14, 2007 Kristen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
Did I mention that I cried. I was reading it while waiting at the beauty salon and continued while sitting in the hairdresser's chair, all the time crying. I stopped reading, so my tear ducts had a chance to dry a little, but I couldn't wait long enough. The moment I started reading again, tears were just streaming down my face. The shampoo girl finally gave me another towel and I finished the book, covered with tears. So if you need a good cry and you are either in place where no one can see yo ...more
Jan 25, 2016 Marvin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This beautiful novel (highly recommended by my wife) is narrated by a precocious 11-year-old girl, a lover of words, stories, and books who lives with her single mother in upstate New York, near Utica. She befriends an "old man," an illiterate immigrant metalworker who lives in a trailer court. He is in nearly every way her opposite: illiterate, a man of few words, but a keen observer of the beautiful and practical. She comes to admire him and sees herself as his apprentice in understanding the ...more
J.S. Bailey
Jul 24, 2013 J.S. Bailey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was another book I randomly checked out from the library just to see what it was like. I have no idea why there is a person hugging a tree on the cover, nor do I know why the book is called Shadow Baby. But it was different, and even though there wasn't much of a plot, I liked it. Maybe I should check out random books more often.
Abby Lyn
Clara is an isolated, rather awkward eleven year old living in the foothills of the Adirondacks who loves stories, reading and words. She befriends an old immigrant metal worker who lives in a trailer park and forms an instant connection with him, and her overactive imagination weaves intricate stories about his life when he refuses to open up about his childhood. Like the old man, Clara's mother Tamar is also reluctant to reveal her past. Clara only discovered that her twin sister died at birth ...more
Jul 19, 2009 Koz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worst title ever. I am practically embarrassed to tell people the title. Every time I did, I'd have to give a disclaimer that it's way better than it sounds.

It's an excellent book. Very well written. I love Clara, the protagonist. Clara from this book and Oskar from "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" should get married. Clara is funny, sweet, heartbreaking and brilliant.

So well done.
May 21, 2015 Hailey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I truly enjoyed this novel; it's amazing to follow along with Clara as she goes through her journey trying to find information about her father and sister. The bond and friendship Clara makes with her elderly neighbor, Georg Kominsky, is inspiring. Clara finds out about Kominsky's past and what it was like to live in his old country that doesn't exist anymore. She tries to re-patch her relationship with her mother and make things right but will that ever happen? Will she find her sister and fath ...more
Miss Grace
Oct 17, 2008 Miss Grace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author doesn't really understand chicken behavior, but that is a relatively minor plot point.
Jule Hack
Clara Winter ist nicht wie die anderen Elfjährigen, sie liebt Wörter und Geschichten, so sher, dass sie sich selbst ständig welche ausdenkt. Diese Fähigkeit hilft ihr, denn ihre Mutter weigert sich, ihr von ihrem Vater und ihrer verstorbenen Schwester zu erzählen. Als Clara dann aber auf Georg trifft, einen alten Mann aus der Wohnwagensiedlung, lernt sie viel über sich selbst und ihre Mitmenschen.
Natürlich eine einzigartige Protagonistin, da aber ohne ihre erdachten Geschichten die ganze Story n
Laura Doberstein
This was one of the strangest books I have read. It was a lot of made up stories and uncovering actual truths. Some of the stories repeated a few times.

I liked the way the author describes the main character's love of words and how she treats words, phrases and sentences. She points out to people that her name is Clara winter (with a lowercase w to prove that winter - the season - did not win).

The book was a quick read. After page 170-ish through the end of the book, it was more and more inter
Jan 24, 2015 jimtown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quirky and irrepressible Clara at eleven years old, has many unanswered questions. Her mother blatantly refuses to answer most of Clara's questions. Clara tries many methods to squeeze her questions in and once in a great while she gets a small bit of information.

Clara winter is a strange girl they say. She makes up stories and book reports about people and places way beyond what should be her realm of knowledge, for Clara is a word person. She spells her last name with a lower case w because wi
The synopsis kind of goes like this:

Meet Clara winter (yep, ‘winter’ is her last name). She hates winter, so she hates spelling her name with a capital ‘w’. She’s an eleven-year old girl who lives with her mother of iron will, Tamar, in their humble settlement in some kind of a mountainous place (with frequent snowfall during winter). Clara loves reading books, particularly those that tell the (hi)story of the pioneers, and lusts for words that aren’t used or spoken often. Because of her love fo
Shadow Baby is one of those books that you kind of have to be in the mood to read, I think.
But there is no way to really tell beforehand if you are in the mood for it, if all you have to go by is the description on the back.

It has a very somber feel to it. It takes place in a town called Sterns, New York where Clara winter (yes, she spells her last name with a lowercase w) lives with her mother. The town is very rundown and poor. Many people live in broken down trailers and drive rust mobiles.
Joan Colby
Dec 31, 2011 Joan Colby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once you are able to suspend disbelief—that an 11-year old could be quite as precocious as Clara—this is an engaging story. Clara’s main goal is to discover who her father and grandfather are and why her twin sister died at birth. Her mother Tamar won’t answer these questions. As a consequence, Clara, a born storyteller, invents tales to satisfy her imagination; that her grandfather is a hermit in the Appalachian woods for instance. Much of Clara’s tales stem from her reading of such stories as ...more
Chris Gager
Started this morning but had to head for work. It's time for some gender balance in my list, which tends to be male author heavy. Seems interesting so far but I'm a bit concerned after looking at some Goodreads reviews. Have any guys read this book???
Done now after another one-night read. This will be my first pre-composed review. I don't know if I'll keep doing it or go back to improvisation with notes. I took a night off from books last night for this and other stuff including a great story i
Kristi Fenske
Jan 15, 2012 Kristi Fenske rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On a whim, I picked up this book at a library book sale. Not my usual choice in books so I was leary when I started it, and even more so when I read what other's thought of it. After a few chapters in I was hooked. I loved the main character Clare winter. Clare, an eleven-year-old way beyond her years was a breath of fresh air. I know there were others who felt the character was not a believable child character, however I found it to be quite refreshing and reminicent of characters in earlier li ...more
This was a pretty good read about an 11-year-old trying to figure out life. Clara is precocious and inquisitive, I found her interesting and endearing. She befriends an elderly neighbor, Georg Kominsky, only to find out that he is illiterate. As she attempts to fill in the missing pieces of her life (she has a twin who died at birth, her mother refuses to reveal her father's identity) she learns more about his life as well.
Jan 21, 2016 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a riveting story about a very bright and eccentric 12 year old girl being raised by her single mom, Tamer. She is assigned to write an oral history and chooses to interview an "old man" who lives in a trailer near the church where her mom attends choir practice. Clara knows she had a twin who died at birth, but wants badly to know more about her sister, her did, and her grandfather. Maybe not great literature, but it sure is a great story!
Nov 10, 2012 Susan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I didn't like this book. I found it kinda hard to read. Not in the material was over my head, or that there were a lot of words that I didn't understand, but in the fact the way the main character Clara winter narrates her story. It was difficult to know what was real and what was something that she made up. But on the other hand, Clara is only 11 years old. And a lot of the time, at that age, kids will make up things in their mind to explain something. And that I completely understand.

Clara liv
Teresa Segura
Apr 08, 2016 Teresa Segura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a "word person" myself, I loved getting to know Clara winter. She is creative and intelligent, thoughtful and imaginative. I want to sit in the Old Man's trailer every Wednesday night and be a part of of their shared experience. This book made me feel, and that's what I want from a book. If I am ambivalent when I finish reading, something's wrong.
When I bought this, I am really excited to read this the book cover is interesting. I thought I wouldn't enjoy it because a girl age of 11 or so is the one who is narrating but this is one of touching story I've read. The story is not just focused on Clara but also on Mr. Kominsky especially his past life. For me this is inspiring and touching story :)
May 23, 2014 Sharyl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads
This was a very enjoyable, engaging read. The protagonist is an eleven-year-old girl named Clara winter (she prefers to give her last name a small w, and she has her reasons), who is extremely clever, and a bit of a word freak. You will like her, I promise. She does not have many people in her life, a fact she endeavors to understand, but she has many imaginative theories. In fact, Clara's creative mind gives birth to a multitude of stories about everyone and everything around her. Her persisten ...more
Karen nelson
Jul 27, 2012 Karen nelson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book very much. I usually do enjoy books written in the voice of a child (and/or juvenile), I just can't help myself.
This book was particularly well written, this child (Clara, 11 years old) reminded me of my own child (Cleveland, 8 years old) although some of the things about her were hard to believe (do 11 year old's really think and talk in such adult terms?) Some do.
Throughout the book, the reader is kept going and curious about the "missing" information concerning family and c
Jan 16, 2016 V rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lyrical prose - my favorite kind of fiction. I love this main character - hopefully the author was inspired by a real person as this child is so lovable and quirky. A very quick read for me as I could not put it down! The author's style and choice of words made this novel a true pleasure to read.
Jan 28, 2014 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick but sad read about a lonely and yet precocious 11 year old girl and the world that she creates as well as actually lives in...very well written but again sad. I won't ruin the end by going into detail but the author (who is very talented) does a good job of ending on a more uplifting note as well as making you feel like you really know Clara the main character.
Beth Anne
i read this book in two sittings. it's very easy to read. and i'm not sure i really liked it. i mean, it was well written, the story was cute. characters pretty likable, i guess.

the main character, i know, i know, was supposed to be this 11 year old girl who admittedly "didn't talk like any other 11 year old." she's wise beyond her years, and all that crap. but i didn't really believe it. no 11 year old would, or could, for that matter, speak like she did. and it made the book a bit unbelievabl
Oct 13, 2010 marymurtz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book---such excellent writing, and the main character's voice was so compelling. Yes, another narrative from a precocious 11-year-old. But this story kind of blew me out of the water. Clara winter (she insists on a lowercase pronunciation of her last name) lives with her single mother and makes friends with Georg (NOT "George" she reminds people. He's an immigrant and his name is Georg), an elderly man who is a tinsmith living in a trailer home. She befriends him ostensibly to interview him ...more
Arlene S
Elegant and honest writing with a quirky protagonist, this coming-of-age story has a different twist. Alison McGhee is author of books for children ( "Julia Gillian and the Art of Knowing"), young adults ("Snap") and adults.
Mar 10, 2016 Lynette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Read it twice and could see reading it a third time. The theme is similar to that in The 13th Tale, but Shadow Baby is a much better book. I would like to read more by this author.
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Alison McGhee is the award-winning author of picture books, poems, and novels for all ages, including the young adult novel ALL RIVERS FLOW TO THE SEA and the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestseller SOMEDAY, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Alison McGhee lives in Minnesota.
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“If you know how to read, you know how forever. You can't unread.” 1 likes
“What sorts of books are placed by garbage cans on garbage night in the town of Sterns? Mainly they're old class books, the kind people carry around in boxes in their basements for twenty years and then one day think: I will never again in my entire life open this book and there is no sense in its taking up valuable space in my basement, and they throw them out. Right out by the garbage cans they put them, in cardboard boxes with the bottoms falling out.
Books should not ever be treated that way. It's a sin to treat a book that way. That's what I believe to be true.”
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