On the Edge of the World

Eerdmans. (Stories from Latin America). Sept. 2023. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780802856128.
Gr 3 Up–This is two parallel stories in one. Each story is about a lonely child, in a remote village, at the edge of their respective nations. Vera lives in Russia, Lucas in Chile. Each child narrates their day. They describe their family life, how they spend their free time, what books they like, and hobbies they wish they could share if only they had friends. At night, they stand on the edge of the ocean, shine a flashlight into the night, and imagine they are receiving a response. The children’s stories share an identical structure, and their experiences and interests have subtle overlap. For instance, Vera’s favorite book is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which Lucas is reading. Lucas plays a video game about taming wild horses, and Vera wishes she had that skill. Equally sophisticated artwork complements the text. Interior and exterior environments are beautifully portrayed in digital illustrations that look like pen and ink. The characters share the same languid charm as the narrative. The color yellow is expertly and sparingly deployed. Each child appears, in yellow outline only, sporadically in the other’s narrative, as if they are sharing the same space despite being thousands of miles apart. And the bright narrow beam of the yellow flashlight connects the two across the middle of the book and across the globe. End papers illustrate the Morse code alphabet. A digital copy was supplied for review; the pages appear to flip in the middle, creating a two-sided book where both stories begin at the cover and meet at their endings.
VERDICT A tender and beautiful work about loneliness and yearning for connection. A modern classic.

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