This Was Our Pact

First Second. Jun. 2019. 336p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781250196958; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781626720534.
Gr 4-7–Each year, during the Autumn Equinox Festival, the townsfolk release lanterns into the nearby river in honor of a local folk song. And every year, a group of boys ride their bikes along the river to follow the lanterns, always stopping partway through. This year, they make a pact to follow the lanterns for as long as possible and discover where they go. But one by one, each rider turns back until the only ones left are narrator Ben and perpetual tag-along Nathaniel. The two boys discover wonders around them: an anthropomorphized bear, a potion maker, and more. This is a charming read, thanks to adventurous Nathaniel, who remains steadfast and self-assured despite enduring verbal bullying from the other boys, in contrast to insecure, timid Ben. The palette is dominated by an inky, navy blue sky infused with ethereal blue stars, occasionally interrupted by vibrant, warm hues. Imprecise linework mirrors the fluidity of the book’s reality, and Ben has a Harry Potter–like appearance.
VERDICT For readers who want an escapist fantasy with a light touch. Hand this title to fans of whimsical or unpredictable adventures such as Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately, the Milk or Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time

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