"The Shadows" is creative, exciting, hilarious, spooky, mysterious, weird, creepy, adventurous, heaps of fun.

Each day leading up to the April 16 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature 2011 Young People’s Literature finalist:

The Books of Elsewhere, Volume I: The Shadows
Jacqueline West
Dial Books for Young Readers/The Penguin Group
Category Sponsor: Sit Investment Associates


(Click on the book to visit its website with video, games and activities)

An excerpt from an interview with Jacqueline West:

“I certainly didn’t write this with any type of lesson in mind, but I suppose any book in which a child protagonist has to solve her own problems lets the reader learn from her mistakes and her growth. I hope kids will identify with Olive and that getting to know her might make them feel a bit less alone or misunderstood or out of place. Aside from that, I just hope kids will be entertained.”

When eleven-year-old Olive moves into the crumbling old mansion on Linden Street, she’s right to think there’s something weird about the place. When she finds a pair of old-fashioned glasses in a dusty drawer, she discovers that she can travel inside paintings to Elsewhere, a quiet and sinister world.


Jacqueline West is a two-time Pushcart nominee for poetry and writes in Red Wing. This is her first book for young readers.


“The house is as much a character as are Olive, Morton, and her family, and a wicked sense of humor tempers the book’s creepiness. A suspenseful plot and insight into childhood loneliness – handily amplified by Bernatene’s moody and dramtically lit b&w illustrations – will have readers anxiously awaiting the next book.” – Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“West’s writing is something special…She has woven the tension of a good mystery with magical touches that make this book sparkle. This is a book to be raced through and then read again…” – Kids Lit

“I found The Shadows mesmerizing, partly due to the story itself; partly due to Jacqueline West’s remarkable writing.” – San Francisco Book Review

“Talking cats and living paintings.  What more could a young reader ask for? West has created a wonderfully imaginative world of mystery and scariness through vivid and poetic language.  She inserts an endearing character that young readers will root for. The tension in The Shadows builds while the mystery unfolds to a delectable climax.  Olive triumphs over her own sense of inadequacy to defeat the villain. The old axiom of ‘good conquers evil’ has never been so much fun.” – MN Book Awards preliminary judge


Book Trailer – Old Ms. McMartin is definitely dead. Now her crumbling Victorian mansion lies vacant. When eleven-year-old Olive and her dippy mathematician parents move in, she knows there’s something odd about the place—not least the walls covered in strange antique paintings. But when Olive finds a pair of old spectacles in a dusty drawer, she discovers the most peculiar thing yet: she can travel inside these paintings to a world thats strangely quiet… and eerily like her own. Yet Elsewhere harbors dark secrets—and Morton, an undersized boy with an outsize temper. As she and Morton form an uneasy alliance, Olive finds herself ensnared in a plan darker and more dangerous than she could have imagined, confronting a power that wants to be rid of her by any means necessary. It’s up to Olive to save the house from the dark shadows, before the lights go out for good.

Still want more? See how “Paintings lead to a whole new world” – A BookPage Interview of Jacqueline West by Eliza Borné


Award winners will be announced at the 23rd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 16, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.

Each year in the weeks leading up to the Minnesota Book Awards gala, all Minnesotans are invited to take part in voting for the Readers’ Choice Award. Vote online now through the end of March  THE DAY! at TwinCities.com. Please, only one vote per person.

Have you read The Books of Elsewhere, Volume 1: The Shadows? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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