Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Don't Cross the Line!

It's that time of year when I buy books for my youngest relatives. I guess I'm known for this by now within the family. So while checking out titles the other day, I came across this book and immediately was drawn in by its cover:


The artwork appears to have been done with something like the water-based Crayola Markers children use. The cover is thick, white paperboard with rounded corners, like a board book you'd buy for babies or toddlers, though the pages inside are regular paper.

The book has end papers that name all the crazily drawn characters in the story. Here's a close up of a few:


The drawings of each character are different on the front and back endpapers; another detail that will delight children (and keep parents awake during repeated rereadings).

What I didn't quite realize until I got the book home and looked at it thoroughly is that it's a radical little story for our present day. It starts out almost empty, with just one uniform-wearing guard (armed with an automatic rifle) standing on the left-hand page near the center gutter. The right page is empty.

Soon, another character and a dog wander onto the page, heading for the other side, only to be told...


"Stop! I'm very sorry, but no one's allowed onto the right hand page." The pedestrian asks why and is told the page is reserved by a general, so that he can join the story whenever he feels like it.

Soon the left-hand page is full of other people, wanting to move through and asking the guard why they can't:


Until a kid's bouncy ball violates the boundary and the guard gives them permission to retrieve it:


Soon everyone else has followed them, with the guard's tacit permission. Everyone is happy — until the general shows up, of course:


The general orders the guard's arrest, but the people cry out, "The guard is our hero!" and a host of other complaints.

Soon the general's horse bucks him off and the people hoist the guard onto their shoulders in a victory parade off the page, leaving the general alone with their forgotten toys, musical instruments, and articles of clothing:


And even he doesn't want to be there at that point.

I hope the parents of the child I plan to give this book to appreciate it!
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Don't Cross the Line! is written by Isabel Minhos Martins and illustrated by Bernardo Carvalho. It was published by Gecko Press, originally in Portuguese, with English translation by Daniel Hahn. In the U.S., it's published by Lerner Publishing Group.

1 comment:

Tracy Buck said...

Love, love, love! Also find it so interesting this is a Portuguese story, I am excited to share it with Pedro! What an interesting concept, to be sure.